According to New Jersey’s 2016 Point-In-Time Count of the Homeless, on the night of January 26, 2016, a total of 513 people were experiencing homelessness in Union County, New Jersey.

The last Wednesday in January, January 25th, marked the annual Point-In-Time Count of the Homeless; which takes place on a single-night in January and coincides with the yearly and bi-yearly homeless count mandated by the United States Congress via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This year’s Point-In-Time Count of the Homeless in Plainfield was led by Mercy Mwaura, Director of Housing and Supportive Services at Homefirst, and Donna Morris, Office of Community Development at the City of Plainfield.

During the early morning hours of January 25, county staff, social service providers and volunteers gathered at the Union County Board of Social Services in Plainfield, NJ (200 West Second Street) to participate in this year’s Point-In-Time Count of the Homeless.

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Participants were joined by Freeholder Linda Carter and Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski; who were present at the Union County Board of Social Services building, in Plainfield, to assist and thank everyone for their involvement.

Social Service providers and volunteers were escorted by Sheriff and Plainfield Police Officers, between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM, in search of homeless individuals in conspicuous and non-conspicuous areas in Plainfield. Willing individuals were voluntarily transported to the Union County Board of Social Services and were provided with warm food, clothing, and information about an outreach event/fair that took place later that afternoon.

In the afternoon, between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM, the community was invited to the Salvation Army in Plainfield where a myriad of social service vendors were on-site to provided services to the 100 community members that were in attendance.

Service providers included Homefirst Interfaith Housing and Family Services, Iris House, the Department of Health for the City of Plainfield, El Centro Hispano Americano, Plainfield Action Services, the Social Security Administration, Community Access Unlimited, United Way of Greater Union County, Central Jersey Legal Services, YWCA, Office of Veteran’s Affairs – Union County, United Family and Children’s Society, Urban League of Union County and then Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health.

Coats, hats, gloves, food and other essential items for our Point-in-Time outreach event/fair were donated by the City of Plainfield, the County of Union, Italian Village, Giovanna’s Restaurant, Trader Joes, South Plainfield's Girl Scout Troop 65305, the Goddard School and Martin Cox.

The surveys completed by homeless individuals during the annual Point-In-Time Count, with the assistance of volunteers, provides the government and local social service providers with valuable information regarding the state and extent of homelessness in the region. The count is also used to connect homeless individuals with agencies where services are available to them; such as Homefirst.

Homefirst is an agency that ‘delivers comprehensive solutions to homelessness by providing transitional, supportive and permanent housing, homeless prevention assistance, and family support services to strengthen families and build communities