MORRIS COUNTY, NJ - The statewide Point-in-Time count of homeless persons in Morris County and all 21 New Jersey counties will take place tomorrow, January 25, with a counting of individuals and households who experience homelessness.
Morris County organizations and agencies work on community efforts to end homelessness will conduct the local counts.
Volunteers will seek out homeless residents who spent the night (tonight) of Jan. 24 in shelters, in the woods, under bridges, in vacant buildings and at other locations where they are forced to live because there is insufficient affordable or supportive housing. Tomorrow, Jan. 25, many local communities will hold Project Homelessness Connect events that connect homeless individuals with a hot meal, warm clothes, services and housing applications.
“It is important to get a solid idea of just how many people in our county may be homeless, to let us better identify the problem so that our Human Services team can best decide how these individuals and families might best be helped,” said Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, the county governing board’s liaison to the county Department of Human Services.
For the fourth year, Monarch Housing Associates is coordinating the statewide NJCounts. In 2016, the count showed 8,941 homeless men, women and children across the state. That was a decrease of 1,270 persons, or 12.4 percent, from 2015. Statewide and individual county NJCounts 2016 reports are available. Click here for the 2016 Morris County report.
“NJCounts 2017 is an important part of local communities’ work to end homelessness because it illustrates the depth and breadth of the need for housing resources,” said Jay Everett, an associate with Monarch Housing which is directing NJCounts 2017. “Our resolution to end homelessness for everyone in our state calls for understanding the need through NJCounts, wisely utilizing our existing resources, and advocating for what is needed to finish the work.”
Monarch Housing expects to make the final report available in spring 2017.
“New Jersey is setting a national trend in reducing homelessness,” said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Charles A. Richman. “This year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ranked New Jersey as one of the top five states with decreases in overall homelessness, homeless single individuals, families, and chronically homeless individuals.”
HUD mandates that local communities conduct a sheltered count each year and, additionally, an unsheltered count every other year. 2017 is a mandated unsheltered count year. This year, getting an accurate count of youth experiencing homelessness is a priority.
According to Monarch Housing, factors that will contribute to this year’s count of homeless families, youth and veterans include:
• Shelters reporting lack of capacity to house homeless families throughout 2016;
• A shortage of rental housing driving up demand and costs;
• A freeze in funding for the federal Housing Choice Voucher program;
• New Jersey continues to have a higher than national average foreclosure rate;
• Too many low paying jobs in New Jersey.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in 2015, a family in New Jersey had to earn a housing wage of $26.52/hour to rent a two-bedroom apartment and the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in is $1,379/month.
The solution to homelessness includes creating the necessary supply of supportive housing – permanent, affordable and independent rental housing with available support services. The NJCounts 2016 results will help to implement and expand on strategies proven to be best practices in ending homelessness.