Message to Congressman Albio Sires – A Place of One’s Own Provides the Opportunity to Pursue Goals
Lawrence Mason, Marshall Rountree, and Maryanne Fiorentino, all constituents of Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ-8), addressed the audience at the July 25, 2018 Congressional Reception, sharing their personal struggles with homelessness.
Lawrence Mason was joined by his wife and two kids as he explained the details that led him and his family to homelessness. At the time, the Mason family was living in Lawrence’s parents’ home and paying their share of the mortgage. The agreement was that his parents would pay their share of the mortgage, but unfortunately, they failed to do so leading to the eviction of the Mason family from the home.
“It was hard to explain to my kids why we didn’t have our house anymore,” said Lawrence.
The Mason family soon got into contact with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homelessness. The Coalition helped them find temporary housing in a hotel until they received a housing voucher that they use to pay for their current apartment.
Marshall Rountree shared that he was formerly incarcerated and found himself homeless after his release. While in prison Marshall changed his life around and became a certified paralegal. Marshall was a model inmate while in prison.
“The only thing holding me back was their concern that I didn’t have a place to stay,” said Marshall.
Marshall stated that once he was released, he moved into temporary housing that he secured through connections he made with a lawyer while in prison. He began trying to rebuild his life, found a job as a paralegal and testified before the Senate.
“But I didn’t have a place to stay,” said Marshall.
Marshall believes that so many people that are trying to come out of homelessness give up because of all the obstacles they have to face. He asks his elected officials to realize that housing in New Jersey is not affordable and no further cuts to housing should be made.
Maryanne shared that she became homeless following several hospital stays for mental health treatment. During her last hospital stay, Maryanne describes getting a housing voucher as the biggest blessing of her life.
“Having a place to call my own has given me the opportunity to pursue my lifelong goal of becoming an artist,” said Maryanne.
Maryanne has sung at various events and has auditioned for the shows The Voice and America’s Got Talent.
“Having a place to call my own has opened up a whole new realm of opportunities,” said Maryanne.
Maryanne believes that everyone should be able to have a place to call their own so that they too can pursue their dreams.
Maryanne ended her speech at the Congressional Reception by singing for the audience.