Since our beginning 26 years ago, Homefirst has developed innovative comprehensive solutions to homelessness, based on national models of excellence.   Our goal is to ensure every family in Union County has access to safe, decent, affordable housing - thereby strengthening families and building stronger more resilient communities.  

There is evidence that the American economy is slowly recovering.  But for America’s working poor the promised recovery is far from reality.  Low-wage workers continue to struggle financially failing to meet their most basic needs such as medical care, food, and housing.

The face of homelessness and poverty has changed in America and not for the better.  Most people think they know what homelessness looks like. Urban settings with men sleeping on corners begging for change.  Today, families with children are one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population.  The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that families comprise 41 percent of the homeless population.  

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The effects of homelessness and poverty on children and families are significant.  Homeless children encounter barriers to education, their physical health suffers, and many experience depression, anxiety, and withdrawal.  Homelessness can also have a profound impact on the family unit.

At Homefirst, families requesting emergency assistance come in everyday from communities throughout Union County.  In response, we employ the National “Housing First” Model; the basis of this model is to provide housing first in order to create a stable foundation for each family.  Currently, Homefirst owns 51 permanent and transitional housing units offering families a safe affordable place to live while receiving comprehensive social services. The Family Support and Prevention Program emphasizes family strengths, delivering comprehensive family support services and partnering with families to mobilize social and community resources and the Youth Success Center supports and assists youth in their transition to adulthood.  We know the challenges of homelessness and poverty are many and the solutions are complex but the profound reality is that each family, each child, each person matters.

Ellen McGovern MSW, LCSW is the Executive Director of Homefirst. Homefirst is located in Plainfield, New Jersey and serves at-risk children and families throughout Union County.  On Thursday, October 24, Homefirst will host an Evening of Thanks: The 2013 Union County Family Service Awards at The Galloping Hill Golf Club in Kenilworth. This special event will raise awareness about families in need; celebrate local citizens who volunteer their time to help their neighbors; and encourage other individuals to make a commitment to serve families in need. For more information please visit