Over 100 healthcare professionals, volunteers and elected officials converged at the Bergen County Housing, Health & Human Services Center in Hackensack today to participate in Project Homeless Connect, an annual effort to feed, clothe, educate, and provide mental health screenings for homeless and un-sheltered individuals in Bergen County. Over 50 temporarily homeless individuals came to receive these services, along with green gift bags filled with donated gift cards, warm clothes, hygiene products, socks, and more.
“This is an incredible event, and Project Homeless Connect does outstanding work to make sure homeless and newly housed people get the guidance and resources they need to stay off the streets,” said Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Zur. “The volunteers here give haircuts, flu shots, provide pro-bono counseling, and many other services that are often overlooked when we talk about homelessness.
Freeholder Zur was joined at the event by her colleagues:
Dozens of County and Statewide agencies branched off into different areas of the 28,000 square-foot complex to give semi-private consultations to those in need on subjects ranging from:
available disability services,
social security and
children’s services to job training,
women’s rights informational materials, and
free flu shots and HIV testing. Bergen County Mental Health Law Project and
Comprehensive Behavioral Health Care joined with other volunteer organizations to provide counseling. Parisian Beauty Academy, of Hackensack, provided free haircuts to everyone in need.
According to Ron Zeitlinger of the Jersey Journal “Hudson County is a long way from ending its homeless problem, but if the county and local non-profit agencies can chip away at it, Randi Moore will be happy.”
The best would be a decrease in the homeless population from 822 last year. That total was seven less than in 2016 and 120 less than in 2013. And while the number of homeless has decreased, the number of homeless housed in shelters has increased from 455 in 2013 to 608 last year.
Hudson County accounted for roughly 10 percent of the state’s 8,532 homeless men, women and children, the second highest of the state’s 21 counties, behind only Essex County.
“While the Union County economy is strong, it is important to recognize that any person or family can fall upon hard times. As a community we strive to lend a helping hand to those in need, and the annual Point in Time Count provides valuable insights into the issue of homelessness in our neighborhoods, throughout New Jersey and across the nation,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados.
“The fact is that any homeless person is one too many,” said Freeholder Granados. “When people lose their homes, the impact ripples out to their families and communities. Solving the problem of homelessness requires a renewed commitment on all levels – state, federal and local.”