At Homefirst we envision a future in which every family has safe, decent housing they can afford.  We seek to strengthen families and communities throughout Union County each day through a combination of transitional, supportive and permanent housing options as well as crucial family support services based on innovative national models of excellence. Our family support programs mobilize social and community resources to connect, engage and empower each family member.

In New Jersey 11 percent of the state’s residents fall below the Federal Poverty Line, which stands at an annual income of $22,811 for a family of four. When adjusted for the cost of living in New Jersey, the same family needs nearly triple that amount - $61,200 - just to meet basic needs. In one of the wealthiest states in America, 1.2 million households fall below this threshold.  For many families a lost job, medical expense or car repair could mean financial ruin.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that families comprise 41 percent of the homeless population.  Homeless and low-income children are more likely to experience food insecurity, major developmental delays and to suffer from emotional difficulties.  

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In 2013, Homefirst had a positive impact on 853 children. Our Family Support Center and community outreach programs served 750 families.  The Homefirst Youth Success Center welcomes children from our community and provides a welcoming, safe and positive place for children to learn and have fun.  Homefirst programs work to empower children and expose them to countless new experiences and opportunities.

Niasia, a weekly attendee at Homefirst’s TEEN Success Center and recent high school graduate from Plainfield recently commented that, “Homefirst helped me and my family transition from homelessness into affordable housing and for that I thank them.  Being in a positive environment with other teens and staff gave me such a safe, supported feeling.” Niasia’s plans for the future include attending college or joining the United States Navy.

Each day we open our doors and our hearts to vulnerable children and their families, tailoring services and programing to each family’s unique set of circumstances. At Homefirst, we know the challenges of homelessness and poverty are many and the solutions are complex but the profound reality is that each family, each person, each child matters.

Ellen McGovern MSW, LCSW is the Executive Director of Homefirst. Homefirst is located in Plainfield, New Jersey and delivers permanent solutions to homelessness through housing, emergency assistance and family support services.  On Thursday, October 30, Homefirst will host an Evening of Thanks: The 2014 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 www.homefirstinc.org.