Loss of 5,500 Housing Vouchers in FY18 Federal Budget Would Exacerbate Homelessness
On December 14, 2017, George, Joe, and Gretchen, individuals living in their own apartments in the Greater Freehold region, gathered to share their personal success stories telling how housing vouchers have transformed their lives. The event took place at the Freehold First Aid Squad in Freehold, New Jersey.
These individuals were joined by Kaitlin McGuiness from U.S. Senator Cory Booker‘s (NJ-D) office, Jessica Rohr from U.S. Representative Chris Smith‘s (NJ-R-4) office and staff from Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, Triple C Housing and Monarch Housing Associates.
George first learned about Triple C’s housing voucher program in 2014. He faced many barriers including being homeless and in recovery and having a partial amputation as a complication from diabetes which left him unable to work.
After moving into his own apartment with the help of a voucher, George returned to school entering a construction management program and completed an internship in New York City.
“I was able to secure stable housing and now have a home for my niece and nephew,” said George. “I am looking forward to re-entering the workforce as a construction manager.” George says that his goal is to transition out of the Section 8 program so that others in need can take advantage of the program.
“If your name is not on a lease, you are homeless,” concluded George noting that having some place to stay temporarily is not the same as having a home.
Joe shared his story of success with housing vouchers through the assistance of CSPNJ. Joe and his brother now share their own apartment and his life has gotten much easier. He is better able to manage his health, adapt to his handicap, can cook in his own kitchen and observe his religion in his own home.
“Ten years ago, I was living in a car,” said Gretchen. “This program (Section 8 voucher program) is a blessing to me. I have been sober for eight years and had surgery to restore my eyesight which I had lost.” Gretchen now has two young children. “The way my life is now, it wouldn’t be possible without Triple C,” said Gretchen.
“Before I received a voucher, all of my money was going towards my rent. It is so important to keep a roof over your head and I do not think I’d be sober right now without it.”
“The Senator has seen firsthand the importance of housing vouchers,” said Kaitlin McGuiness reading from a statement from the office of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (NJ-D.) “It is outrageous to threaten cuts to essential programs like Section 8 vouchers. This program is not a luxury – it is a necessity.”
McGuiness encouraged the audience, “Progress is possible through the hard work of committed individuals and your hard work matters.”
“Rep. Chris Smith, who wrote the first comprehensive homeless veterans assistance legislation, knows that the humanitarian value of having a roof over one’s head cannot be measured and should never be downplayed,” said Jessica Rohr, an aide to Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4-R) who shared the quote from the Congressman’s office.
“When he met with Monarch Housing just a few short months ago, Rep Smith said that any one of us could find ourselves in a short or long-term situation where we need assistance to get through a rough patch. Rep. Smith will continue to push the federal government to meet its responsibilities in helping people and providing a real safety net.”
Videos of Joaquin, John and Bill and another housing voucher recipient are available and highlight the transformative impact of having a place to call home.
Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey (CSPNJ)’s Chief Financial Officer Victor Luna said that from CSPNJ’s perspective, “You can start on your recovery when you have a roof over your head.”
Richard W. Brown, Monarch Housing Associates’ CEO said, “Rents are rising rapidly and for the first time for years, including through the great recession, national homeless numbers are rising.”
Triple C’s mission is to create permanent supportive housing opportunities coupled with innovative support services empowering individuals and families to live with dignity and fulfill their utmost potential.