How to Help the Un-sheltered Homeless as we Prepare for NJCounts 2018
Rev. Alexander M. Santora is the pastor at Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken. He writes a weekly faith column for The Jersey Journal.
While the Rev. Santora’s column and message was tied to the Christmas holiday, it is a message that we should all take with us into the New Year. Santora encounters on the streets of Hoboken individuals experiencing homelessness who live on the streets and do not accept offers for shelter and assistance or do not fit into the shelter system.
Writes Santora, “But there are a score or more of regulars who traverse the streets of Hoboken and do not fit in. Some have mental problems but are so resilient and survive the cold weather. They find their nooks and crannies and grub enough food and money to get what they need. We all see them and are approached by them.”
On January 24, 2018, NJCounts 2018 volunteers will work in Hudson County and New Jersey’s 20 other counties to count the homeless living in the shelter system but also those homeless individuals who live un-sheltered.
The results of NJCounts 2018 will provide updated data needed to address the needs of the sheltered and un-sheltered homeless.
“Their existence challenges all the stakeholders in this area — county, Hoboken, elected officials, houses of worship, social service agencies and residents — to come up with a solution. What do we need to do to minister to these broken individuals who resist normal help because their mental state is abnormal? How do we provide help for people who need it the most but simply wander around all day?”
Santora concludes writing about one homeless individuals who was living outside in Hoboken, “I made sure Ruby ate that night and did not sleep on the bench in the cold. I directed her to the local breakfast and lunch program at the wonderful Trinity Lutheran Church program on Eighth and Hudson. But she never showed up there the next morning. I have not seen her since. But I see the regulars talking to themselves or drinking a magnum of beer or living with all their belongings on a Washington Street bench. My Christmas prayer is that we begin to address what can be done: that we see in each of these helpless homeless the face of Jesus.”