Newark Today: Communities are Starting to Pivot Towards an Investment in Housing to Provide Exit Out of Homelessness
On November 27, 2018, Newark Today show, host Michael Hill was joined by Ketlen Alsbrook, Chief of Staff of the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, Taiisa Kelly with Monarch Housing Associates, and Richard Uniacke with Bridges Outreach.
Hill’s guests talked about the city’s new year-round shelter initiative while also highlighting city-wide programs and services for those in need during this year’s holiday season. Callers were invited to call in and join the conversation with their questions.
Taiisa shared a summary of Monarch’s mission and work, “Primarily focus on developing permanent supportive housing for people with special needs as well as doing planning with communities on homeless issues.”
Taiisa explained the trend of moving towards the investment in permanent housing to end homelessness.
“Across the state and across the country, we are starting to see a lot more communities start to pivot towards an investment in housing so that there is an exit out of homelessness. The challenge with this is that it takes time. It is not an immediate fix,” said Taiisa on Newark Today.
“It is not something where you are going to see an investment today and housing tomorrow. It takes time to build that system. It takes time to build the networks. And I think we are seeing communities across the state do that. Communities that have been more successful with that have really seen dramatic decreases in their homeless population.”
Newark Today host Michael Hill referenced the Mount Laurel impact and its impact on affordable housing and housing segregation in New Jersey.
“There’s disproportionate impact of homelessness,” responded Taiisa. “We see, for example, African Americans are more likely to experience homelessness. They represent a larger portion of the homeless population and that is tied into the conversation about who’s allowed into certain communities and who can access certain communities. One of the things that a lot of homeless systems are trying to do is invest in vouchers because that gives you more flexibility where people can go and where people can move. It doesn’t solve everything but it does help get people into housing who are experiencing homelessness.”
As of November 1, 2018, seven Newark homeless shelters began accepting applications and registration for semi-permanent housing. In the past, Newark only opened shelters during extreme weather conditions of heat and cold, citing lack of funding as a rationale for the absence of a more permanent solution.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka stated on Newark Today, “The City of Newark can’t deal with homelessness by ourselves in isolation. Our role is to work collaboratively with the organizations that do operate quality shelters and to participate with the State, County, HUD [(U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)], Housing Authority, Corporate Community, Non-profits, Colleges and Universities, Community Organizations, and Churches to develop and implement solutions to homelessness.”
According to the Monarch’s 2018 analysis of homelessness in Essex County in the NJCounts 2018 report, surveying the population throughout the county on January 23:
- Newark held 1,928 of the 2,229 homeless individuals in Essex County (86.5%).
- Of the Newark homeless, 320 went un-sheltered that day (16.6%).
- Of the Essex County population, 38.9% are Black and 22% are Hispanic, but they make up 71% and 15.1% of the homeless population respectively.
- Of the homeless individuals surveyed, 36% reported having one or more disability, such as a:
- mental health disorder,
- substance abuse disorder,
- physical disability,
- or HIV/AIDS.
- Seventy-seven of the individuals were veterans, an increase from 52 in 2017.
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