Cumberland County’s Success with Housing First is Transforming and Stabilizing Lives
On December 3, 2018, NJ Spotlight’s Lois Stainton wrote about “Making Housing the Priority for Homeless People in NJ – Over Treatment or Sobriety.” Stainton further writes “The ‘housing first’ model of treating homeless people in a ‘humanistic and holistic way’ is gaining ground in the Garden State as elsewhere in the country.”
The Housing First model for housing individuals experiencing homelessness is not only being replicated and implemented across the United States but also right here in New Jersey.
- Housing First is an approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements.
- The model not only saves money on costly interventions but also transforms lives of those who were once homeless.
- Helping individuals experiencing homelessness move into safe housing is the first step in the Housing First model.
But fast forward a few years and Oscar now has his own apartment, he has a job and is able to enjoy the simple pleasures that many of take for granted like busying his own groceries at a local market on Sunday mornings.
Oscar is just one of almost 60 Cumberland County residents who were once homeless but now have their own homes. To help him maintain the stability in his life, “Oscar receives regular behavioral health and medical services through Inspira Health Network and other providers, largely on an outpatient basis.”
Jeff, who is pictured to the right, is another one of the individuals experiencing homelessness who now lives in his own apartment in Cumberland County.
Cumberland County’s Housing First Collaboration is seeing a great deal of success employing the Housing First model even in a county that has the lowest per-capital income out of New Jersey’s 21 counties along with limited access to public services.
The Reverend Robin Weinstein who is the president and CEO of the M25 Initiative talks about the success of Housing First in Cumberland County. “That shows what happens when you address homelessness in a humanistic and holistic way,” said Weinstein.
Weinstein launched Code Blue which shelters on very cold nights individuals experiencing homelessness, but he looked to Housing First as a more permanent solution.