To Whom it May Concern;
My name is Keith Kinard and I am the Executive Director of the Morristown Housing Authority (MHA). I would like to take a moment to clarify several misunderstandings concerning donations to elderly tenants who reside in MHA public housing buildings. Unfortunately, the onset and growth of the coronavirus has created an extremely challenging situation for all of us. In Morristown, this situation is exacerbated for the 278 elderly tenants residing in the large multi-family buildings we own. The average age of the residents in our senior buildings is 72 with many tenants well in their 80's and 90's. It is with their health and well-being in mind that I provide this information.
When the coronavirus struck several weeks ago the housing authority took several steps to reduce exposure in our high-rise buildings. These steps included, but are not limited to, limiting all visitor access to nurses and home health aides, requiring deliveries to occur at the main doors, closing the community rooms in each building to eliminate group gatherings, performing more frequent cleaning of areas regularly touched by individuals, conducting routine telephone surveys of residents to check wellness and specific needs, and sending written updates to each apartment as conditions continue to evolve.
The issue at MHA is not donations. The misunderstanding arises from both a lack of communication and safe method of food distribution to our vulnerable elderly population. Recently, a local social media campaign fueled the donation of food and money to assist our elderly residents who may have needs. After donations arrived at one of our buildings, they were delivered door-to-door to the elderly. The problem was that the Morristown Housing Authority was totally unaware of the solicitation of goods and funds on our residents' behalf. In addition, given the spread of the coronavirus nationwide the MHA had already posted notices throughout the buildings prohibiting deliveries and limiting visitors. Relatives of our elderly tenants were appropriately concerned that while the MHA took a reasonable position to restrict visitors, people were going door-to-door with deliveries. Again, all of this without prior authorization and in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
It is very important to note that donations of food and goods are always welcome for our residents. In fact, we advise all interested parties to donate to Nourish NJ (a non-profit partner) located at 36 South Street Morristown NJ. Donations are received by Nourish on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m , and this non-profit partner works with the MHA to ensure proper receipt and distribution of donated food and supplies.
In sum, we cannot support the unknown and unauthorized solicitation of food and money in the name of the MHA and/or its residents. As with most large property owners, we do not permit unauthorized door-to-door distributions of food and goods to our elderly residents. This is especially critical in the face of a deadly nationwide pandemic. We are not questioning the motives of anyone involved in the solicitation of donations. I am sure they had good intentions whenever they decided to take the actions noted above. However, our funder (the federal government) has a reasonable expectation that when any individual or business utilizes our company's name to receive goods or funds, we have knowledge, grant authorization and execute a contract. Had this occurred, the second potentially catastrophic act of door-to-door deliveries would have never happened.
On behalf of the Morristown Housing authority we thank everyone for your concerns as it relates to our elderly residents. Please remember should you choose to donate to benefit our residents please be mindful of any travel restrictions that may be imposed by the State of New Jersey and provide all donations to Nourish New Jersey C/O the MHA. Proper receipt and distribution of all donations will help to dramatically reduce the chances of the spread of the coronavirus.