Congressman Smith at NJ Hill Day Tells Constituents: We Must Address Underlying Causes of Homelessness
On July 25, 2018, Nikki Jones and Beth Schneider, constituents of U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ-4), shared their storied of the impact of homelessness on their lives at NH Hill Day. Congressman Smith, who attended the event, and the over 350 attendees at the event heard their stories.
Beth spoke first about the critical connection between housing and mental health recovery. Beth received support through Community Enterprise Corporation (CEC) housing, a program through Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey (CSPNJ). She also receives other mental health services through CSPNJ.
She admits, “If it were not for them, I would not be well today.”
Beth’s stable housing helps her to feel safe and independent. She is very grateful for the resources affordable housing resources available in New Jersey and urges her elected officials in Washington, D.C. to not make any housing cuts and to take mental health seriously.
Nikki, also received services from CSPNJ and Declarations, Inc. and spoke later in the afternoon at NJ Hill Day.
As a child, Nikki lived in group homes from the age of 9 years old until he entered his adult years. During this time, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Asperger Syndrome.
Nikki constantly cycled in and out of the hospital, staying with friends but having no place to call his own. Eventually, he connected with supportive housing through Declarations Incorporated.
Nikki received a section 8 housing voucher to help pay for his rent. He admits, “Just about all of my social security (Social Security Disability Insurance – SSDI) check goes to my rent.” He still has to work two jobs in order his other necessary expenses.
Nikki explains, “It’s an anger, it’s mixed feelings, that I have about all this because even though I have financial services and work two jobs, I still struggle. I still struggle to make ends meet.”
Nikki doesn’t think that anyone should be left out on their own and calls upon American citizens and the U.S. Congress to defend affordable housing funding.
Nikki declares, “In this nation we’re a team and we have to stick together.”
Following Nikki, Congressman Smith addressed his constituents and the 350 people in attendance at NJ Hill Day.
Congressman Smith described his immense care for individuals with autism, those suffering from addiction, homeless veterans, and others who are facing challenges in the current housing crisis.
Congressman Smith described legislation he helped draft that addresses the needs of individuals living with autism, stating, “The legislation is designed to be a blueprint to make sure that across the country we and (in) our great state of NJ, (that) we meet that challenge with housing and all the other aspects including employment.”
Congressman Smith believes we must address the underlying issues that lead to homelessness, such as drug addiction and mental health issues, in order to eradicate it.
Monarch Housing Associates and its partners thank Nikki and Beth for speaking Congressman Smith for attending NJ Hill Day and speaking. If you are a constituent of Congressman Smith, please be sure to thank him for his attendance.
CSPNJ works with the mission of providing flexible community-based services that promote responsibility, recovery and wellness through the provision of community wellness centers, supportive and respite housing, human rights advocacy, and educational and innovative programs.
Declarations Inc. works with the mission of providing educational and emotional support to people with disabilities by operating facilities and programs that are dedicated to their recovery, rehabilitation, and wellness.