PLAINFIELD, NJ - Meet Mrs. Gomez-Diaz, a New York native, wife, and mother to sons, 4 and 5 years of age. Despite facing daily challenges with mobility due to cerebral palsy, she maintains a spirit of optimism. There was a time, however, that she remembers when her situation was not so positive. “I wanted to give up…then I looked at my husband and my kids and was like, I can’t give up because I have children.”
The housing subsidy process proved to be a difficult process to manage with Mrs. Gomez-Diaz’s disability and two young children. They were 1 and 2 years old at the time. As she was unable to manage this process, she, unfortunately, lost her housing voucher. With no other options, her family was forced to move to a shelter for two months before Homefirst was able to intervene.
Mrs. Gomez-Diaz recounts her experience with Homefirst, “I love the case manager I have now. She’s amazing. And that’s what you need. You need people that can handle people like us.” The family specialists at Homefirst worked with her to ensure that, not only did she have a place to call home, but that her environment catered to her disability. With dark days behind her, she recalls, with excitement, when she first moved into her Homefirst apartment. “I was like a kid, opening the doors to see everything. It was the first time in my life that I saw an apartment so big.”
Today we are happy to report that the Gomez-Diaz family continues to thrive in the Homefirst community. Additionally, Homefirst has been able to provide the family with winter coats and holiday toys for their children.
It is stories and many more like these that help a community grow and prosper.
“Homeless, Not Hopeless” means Homefirst is here to help and provide hope for a brighter future. Homefirst is calling upon all members of our community to help us help our most vulnerable families and the homeless in Union County, NJ. We’ve adjusted our operations to help clients remotely, but the calls for our services have skyrocketed.
For example, many of our families receive government food subsidies but their funds run out before the end of the month, or a single woman with children needs to find shelter because they are escaping domestic violence, or a family is facing eviction because they are out of work and must make a choice of buying food or paying rent.
Our ability to meet the needs of our homeless population and our most vulnerable families is partially met by state and county grants, but in this crisis, it is not enough. That’s why we have established the Homefirst COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to meet the needs of our families.
OUR CORE ACTIVITIES:
Homeless Prevention: provides resources (“where to go” or “how to apply”), including direct financial assistance, to families and individuals facing eviction, foreclosure, or utility shut-off.
Family Support: provides direct support to families such as food, cleaning products, soap, diapers, etc.
Housing Case Management: provides case management and one-on-one counseling to families or victims of domestic violence in our housing programs.
The Homefirst COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund was established to: Supplement our existing emergency direct assistance program; Provide additional food bags or supermarket gift cards to individuals and families in need; and, House families in temporary emergency shelters while Homefirst finds permanent housing.
The Emergency Relief Fund will also make it possible for us to upgrade our technology to handle the higher call volume and protect the confidentiality of our