Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen was not able to attend the Reception but Tom Doelp from his staff attended in the Congressman’s place. Dan McGuire, CEO of Homeless Solutions and Jillian Belgrave and Daryl Boone both residents of Morristown addressed the audience.
Dan McGuire gave remarks and introduced Jillian and Daryl.
“Morris County is one of the most affluent counties in the nation but I always remind our Congressman that this does not disguise a large and in fact growing number of disabled people, senior and working families that are struggling, that are barely making ends meet,” said Dan.
Dan reminded the audience that there are many constituents in Morris County that ask, “Will I pay rent this month? Or will I have enough food for my family? Will I be able to buy medicine for my kid?”
“I truly believe that the county can achieve a functional end to homelessness in the coming years,” said Dan. “But that can only be possible if we continue to fund these essential federal housing programs.”
“If folks can’t find an affordable home to move into, you’ve got nothing,” Dan reminded the audience. “There is a housing affordability crisis in New Jersey.”
“We need more of an investment in affordable housing that people can afford,” Dan said to Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen. “Let me be clear, federal funding for housing programs is not a cost, it’s not an expense, it’s an investment. It’s cheaper to keep people housed safely and securely than to let them slip into emergency housing situations and become homeless.”
Dan reminded the audience, “Options for housing that a person or family can afford is the foundation for success and makes our communities stronger.”
He then introduced Jillian Belgrave and Daryl Boone.
Jillian told the audience, “Currently, I am employed full time as a preschool teacher in Morristown.” She was married and had an education and a good job and told the audience, “Thought I had done everything right.”
“I now live in a project section 8 apartment through our local Morristown housing authority,” said Jillian who is recently divorced. “Where I live now, my rent is based on my income so when my husband left, my rent was adjusted.”
“I have overcome homelessness, an abusive marriage and despite it all, I’m o.k,” said Jillian. She is thankful for the support and assistance that she has received from Homeless Solutions and for her Section 8 apartment.
Says Jillian, “I am here to put a face to my section 8 apartment.”
“I don’t know where I would be today if it were not for the housing programs, I utilize,” Jillian gave as a call to action. “I cannot emphasize enough how important no cuts to housing is.
Darryl Boone told the audience that he was educated at Rutgers University and Howard School of Law. “At the time, you couldn’t tell me that success wasn’t in front of me. But I had one demon, substance abuse,” said Daryl.
Daryl told the audience that he hit rock bottom back in 2005. But says Darryl, “I learned how to become a productive member of society once again. I only had one goal, to become more self-sufficient, have my own apartment and help people along the way.” He is now gainfully employed and is considering purchasing his own home.
Says Darryl, “This is what affordable housing allowed me to do. And I’d like to see it provide others with the same opportunity.”
Darryl’s message to Congress is, “I would like to impress upon the congressional members, that securing funding to expand affordable housing in New Jersey would in fact enhance those congressman’s legacy that votes for it.