NJ 211 which plays an important role as a referral service for households experiencing homelessness in need of housing and services participated in this year’s count. “No one deserves to be without a safe, warm place to rest his or her head,” NJ 2-1-1 Executive Director Melissa Acree said in a media statement, “On Jan. 24, we’ll be actively involved in this effort to understand homelessness by counting and gathering data on every caller from anywhere in the state who self-identifies as being homeless.”
Monarch Housing Associates coordinated the state wide NJCounts 2018 effort. “There are still thousands of our fellow New Jerseyans who do not have a home in the middle of winter,” said Taiisa Kelly, senior Associate with Monarch Housing. “This year, Code Blue legislation ensures that our unsheltered homeless neighbors have warming centers to go to on the coldest nights. However, our resolution to end homelessness for everyone in our state calls for understanding the need through NJCounts, wisely utilizing our existing resources, and advocating for the funding for affordable housing that is needed to finish the work.”
The results of NJCounts 2018 will help to continue to make the case for continued investment in the federal choice voucher program which is one of the key solutions to homelessness. “Many factors contribute to homelessness. New Jersey faces a number of challenges, including a shortage of rental housing, the loss of living-wage jobs, and the failure of Congress to increase funding for the federal Housing Choice Voucher program,” said Bette Jane Kowalski, in a media statement. She is the Union County Freeholder liaison to the county’s Human Services Advisory Board. “Even under current levels, the wait for a Section 8 voucher ranges from five to 10 years in Union County.”
“New Jersey is known far and wide for economic inequality. The country’s most densely populated state is home to some of its wealthiest residents, with major pharmaceutical and financial firms dotting the 21 counties along with mansions and luxury high-rise towers that are being constructed in many cities and suburbs. However, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans from Hoboken to Howell do not have the privilege of living in the state’s opulent houses and apartments. Some do not have a permanent, or even a temporary, place to call home at all.” Jersey Digs planned to help count in Mercer County and report on its experience with NJCounts 2018.