More than 300 Attend Congressional Reception Advocating that Opportunity Starts at Home

Thank You to All Attendees, Impact Speakers, Partners and Elected Officials who Reminded us that Housing is a Right

By: Mitch Kelly & Jillian Lapidus

Thank you to the 300 plus individuals who on July 24, 2019 attended #NJHillDay in Washington, DC. The speakers and attendes at yesterday’s Congressional Reception told our elected officials in Congress that Opportunity Starts at Home! We heard from 13 impact speakers, two national speakers from the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign, state speakers and several members of New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation.

Thank you to all attendees, bus captains, impact speakers and sponsoring partner organizations who made the event a success!

The impact speakers, from all parts of New Jersey, spoke about their personal experiences with homelessness connecting it the importance of prioritizing several federal programs and priorities, including McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, Fair Housing, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF).

Susan Biegen speaking at the Congressional Reception

Susan Biegen, who addressed U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), discussed her experience as a single mother who waited for a (Section 8) Housing Choice Voucher for seven years. She also talked about the importance of Medicaid, saying that her children’s physical and mental health suffered as a result of their unstable housing.

U.S. Senator Menendez (D-NJ) responded to Susan’s story by saying that elected officials must “expand access to safe and affordable housing” and that “no family should be forced to live in unsafe conditions because of how much money they make.”

Understanding that yesterday was a very busy day on Capitol Hill, we appreciate the elected officials and staff members who attended the event and addressed the significance of the homelessness crisis in New Jersey. We plan to follow up in the district with those elected officials who regreted not being able to join us.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez speaking at the Congressional Reception

Elected officials who attended the Congressional Reception were U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), U.S. Representative Andy Kim (D-NJ-3), U.S. Representative William Pascrell (D-NJ-9), U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) and U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12).  Staff representing the offices of U.S. Senator Cory Booker and US Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6.) also made an appearance.

The annual Congressional Reception is a necessary event that not only highlights that Housing is a Right, but that there are public policy solutions to ending homelessness and in creating homes that all can afford. The event impacts advocates, people impacted by homelessness and the elected officials who represent New Jersey. Mark Duffy, the Chief Operating Officer at CSPNJ, explains in an NJ Spotlight article the importance of this event, “One of the things that happens when you do something like this is it puts the issue on the map for a while,” Duffy said. “Their stories were very effective.”

In addition, here is a link to the slideshow that was shown at the Reception yesterday, providing details regarding our Sponsors and the 2018 NJ Counts data. 

If you attended this year’s Congressional Reception and have not already, we would very much appreciate it if you filled out our survey on Survey Monkey. Your feedback is very important to us and we appreciate you taking the time to fill it out.