Jennifer, Constituent of Congressman Payne, to Address July 24 Congressional Reception
Along with 13 other speakers, Jennifer Smith will speak at the 2019 Congressional Reception on July 24, 2019. Jennifer will share her experience with homelessness. Join Jennifer to let our elected officials know that housing is a right and housing is healthcare. You can click here to register for the Congressional Reception on Wednesday, July 24.
Jennifer lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, and is a constituent of US Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10).
Jennifer faced many challenges as a child and, as a result, developed depression. She began drinking at a young age, beginning a long struggle with alcoholism. Eventually, she found herself on the streets and without a home. Her depression worsened once she became homeless, so she drank more to cope
Some nights, she slept outside. On other nights, she would stay in friends’ homes, but would often get kicked out. This left Jennifer feeling constantly stressed, never sure what each day would bring. For 18 years, Jennifer was without her own home.
After her physical and mental health declined significantly, and alcoholism was too much for her to handle anymore, she found the courage to go to the hospital. On her way to the hospital, her liver failed. When she was discharged, she didn’t want to go back to the same situation and still felt hopeless. But then Jennifer finally received some help. Hudson County Housing Resource Center (HRC), which provides tenant-based rental assistance and other services for individuals living in Hudson County, quickly provided her with rental assistance. In addition to receiving housing assistance, Jennifer developed the foundation she needed to rebuild her life, including psychotherapy and support.
After years of unstable housing, Jennifer says it’s incredible to be able to take a shower, take her medications, cook, advocate, and work. Her health has also significantly improved since finding housing. Now, she maintains a part-time job, and in her free time likes to advocate for housing programs and resources. Jennifer says she would be unable to afford her rent if it was market-rate, so she is concerned about any decrease in funding for affordable housing programs. Many low-income and struggling individuals and families rely on organizations like HRC to keep their housing and stay healthy.
Expanding the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program would allow organizations like HRC to help many more people, as less individuals and families would rely on grants or other forms of housing assistance from these organizations. Additionally, increasing the supply of newly built affordable housing would have similar results, allowing people to be less reliant on the support of an organization. Expanding the Voucher program and increasing funding for housing development programs are two of the 2019 Federal Policy Priorities.
Jennifer describes herself as ambitious, positive, and hard-working. She is looking forward to speaking at the Congressional Reception to let elect officials know that Opportunity Starts at Home. If you want to show your support for Jennifer and all housing advocates, register to attend the Reception on July 24 today!