NJCounts Annual Count Paints a Picture of Homelessness
On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, NJCounts 2018, the statewide Point-in-Time count of the homeless took place across the state counting individuals and households who experience homelessness. Morris and Sussex Counties were two of the twenty-one counties across the state that took part in the Count.
TapintoParsipanny reported on January 24, 2018 that “Homeless Solutions, who is participating in this year’s NJ Count, is a private non-profit organization works with those affected by homelessness in Morris County. The organization offers shelter, services and housing to homeless and low income individuals and families.
“NJCounts generates invaluable information for Homeless Solutions and our other Morris County partners,” says Dan McGuire, President/CEO, Homeless Solutions, Inc. “It helps us measure our progress in reducing overall homelessness and in responding to certain priority populations such as unsheltered or chronically homeless households. Data generated from this effort also yields important insights that can help us tweak existing programs, roll out a new initiative, or forge a strategic partnership that addresses a need or fills a gap.”
“Last year’s NJ Counts showed that we achieved a 9 percent reduction in Morris County homeless household’, continued McGuire. “We’re upbeat that the 2018 NJ Counts data will show continued progress, reflective of the hard work we’ve engaged in throughout the past year.”
Speaking with a woman experiencing homelessness, the New Jersey Herald shared a snapshot of the hardships in living without a home. A woman who called herself
“I stay with my sister sometimes, and I have a car. I know a few places where I can park and get a good night’s sleep if it comes to that. I know where to go for a hot lunch. Being homeless is so lonely, though. That’s probably the only reason why I’m talking to you about all of this. This is not the life I wanted, that’s for sure. But I get by.”
“This is a survey that we ask our clients to fill out either over the phone or in person,” said Chris Butto, executive director of Family Promise. “It’s intentionally very specific so that the state can look at the overall data that has been collected and understand how many people were experiencing homelessness at a given point in time. We call it a snapshot view of homelessness. It asks people to explain where they spent the night on Jan. 23 — for example, did they sleep on the street, in a shelter, in a motel, with a family member, or in a hospital or correctional facility. It also asks demographic questions including age, gender, race and disability status so that we can then look at the overall numbers and determine which populations are currently experiencing the greatest areas of need.”
As the homeless population tends to be somewhat transient, many organizations, including Family Promise and Project Self-Sufficiency, keep client intake records on file for at least a year in order to retain contact information.
“On the day of the point-in-time count, we go back through all of those records and reach out to anyone who has used our services in the past year,” said Deborah Berry-Toon, executive director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “In addition to asking people to complete the survey, it also helps us to reconnect with clients who may have transitioned out of our programming. A lot can change in a short period of time for people who are experiencing homelessness, so this gives us the chance to let people know about different options that may be now be available to them.”