First, Patrick Robinson, a resident of Bloomfield, discussed the connection between mental health and housing. He was forced to leave his family’s home due to his addiction to drugs and became homeless.
After a suicide attempt, Patrick was hospitalized for 4 months. Once he was released, he was left without a home. He ended up back in another hospital.
Finally, Patrick discovered Project Live. For 3 years, Project Live provided him with supervised housing, where he was constantly monitored to avoid relapse. The agency gave him a “home, a group, a sponsor and a network.”
Patrick revealed, “I never went back (to drugs) since.”
After those 3 years, he was offered another 3 years of unsupervised housing. Eventually, he was offered a job in the maintenance department at Project Live. He continues to work in that job full-time.
Patrick explained, “Life is very good today, I am very fortunate.”
Patrick wants his elected officials to know that homelessness is an issue that they must be taking seriously.
Patrick admitted, “Homelessness is not a nice thing. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
Later in the afternoon, Tanisha Garner, a resident of Newark, spoke sharing her personal experiences.
Tanisha was laid off from her job at Verizon after working there for several years. After her job loss, she struggled to find stable employment and housing that she could afford.
Upon losing her job, Tanisha sought help and was able to receive federal public assistance. Through welfare, assistance she was also able to apply for the subsidized housing where she now lives in with her three daughters.
She does not want to stop there, though. Tanisha is determined to enact change in Newark and around the country.
Tanisha encouraged her listeners to try and make a difference. She ran for municipal council this past year and although she did not win the election, she says that she “won” because she put herself out there to generate change.
She urged the audience, “We need to step up to the plate. This our generation.”
She challenged her listeners, “You want to make a change? You run for office. You want to make a change? You be there to help them write the policies.”
Congressman Donald Payne Jr. spoke after Tanisha. He expressed his concern for the current housing crisis but declared, “It is incumbent upon us to do the things we need to do to make sure that people have affordable housing’
Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. spoke about how he has fought for affordable housing in Newark.
He explained, “My commitment is to Newark and affordable housing.”
He concluded, “We’re going to do what we can to make sure that everyone, everyone, in the great state of New Jersey has the opportunity to benefit from the greatness of this country and live in affordable quality housing.”