Press Releases

First Lady Michelle Obama Sends Letter Congratulating Middlesex County on Effectively Ending Veterans’ Homelessness

First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama Credits:

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ - First Lady Michelle Obama sent a congratulatory letter to Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios on the County’s certification for effectively ending veterans’ homelessness in the County.


“I am thrilled to congratulate Middlesex County on the extraordinary achievement of ending veteran homelessness,” Mrs. Obama wrote in a letter dated Oct. 24. “Thank you for your leadership – and that of your colleagues in Middlesex County – for the work you are doing and will continue to do. I am so proud of your community’s commitment, dedication, and resolve to reach this milestone, and I am grateful for all you have done for America’s heroes.”  


In addition, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro called to congratulate Middlesex County officials for effectively ending veterans’ homelessness in the County.

Sign Up for E-News


“On behalf of President and Mrs. Obama and a grateful nation, I thank you,” Secretary Castro said in a telephone call with Freeholder Director Rios, Freeholder Blanquita B. Valenti, and county staff.


Secretary Castro explained that veterans’ homelessness is an important issue for President and Mrs. Obama. In fact, he said, the First Lady established the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, which the County joined in 2014.


During the telephone call with the Secretary, Freeholder Director Rios said: “Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for taking the time out of your schedule to show your appreciation and that of President and Mrs. Obama for our reaching the finish line. We are very committed to and concerned about our veterans.”


Earlier this month, Middlesex County received certification from three federal agencies, including HUD, that it has achieved functional zero for veterans’ homelessness. Functional Zero means that Middlesex County has the infrastructure and systems in place to ensure that any veteran experiencing homelessness will get the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home.


The driving force behind the County’s achievement is its Veterans Housing Assistance Program (VHAP), created by the Freeholders in 2011. The program assists veterans and their families at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness. The Freeholders commit $100,000 each year to fund the program from the County’s Homeless Trust Fund. So far, the program has helped 307 veterans and families.


County staff works with the non-profit Coming Home of Middlesex County, two federally funded Supportive Services for Veteran Families programs (Soldier On and Community Hope), and a network of veterans organizations and Community and faith-based partners. 


In addition to the County’s funds, the partners utilize voucher programs, including HUD VASH, which is administered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 


At the time of the announcement, Rios said: “Those of you who know me, know that helping our veterans is a passion of mine, and this achievement in particular is so very close to my heart. This is the story of many hands and heads working together to achieve a common goal. I thank and commend our County staff and our community partners for sharing my passion and my vision for ending Veterans Homelessness. We did it. And we did it together.”


“Everyone here is very proud of your efforts,” Castro said. “I ask two things: One: that you take every opportunity to share what you learned through the process. That it takes cooperation among local (governmental entities), non-profits and the Federal Government. And, two, you have shown tremendous effectiveness (in ending veterans homelessness). I ask that you apply that to ending chronic homelessness, family homelessness and youth homelessness in the years to come.”


Freeholder Rios said: “Our staff is up to the challenge.” 


Rios explained that the County allocates $1 million annually to the Housing First Capital Fund, which helps provide units for homeless persons throughout the County. 


Units have been set aside for homeless individuals and families in numerous developments, including Kilmer Homes in Edison and the County’s latest project, the rehabilitation of the historic Roosevelt Hospital in Edison, which will have five units set aside for the formerly homeless.  Veterans will have preferred status for 25 percent of the 84 apartments available. 


In addition, developers have all agreed to work through the County’s Coordinated Assessment Process to fill units set aside for the homeless. 


“I’m not surprised that you are making progress on this,” Secretary Castro said. “Thank you to those who have worked on this issue for several years. None of this can be accomplished at the snap of the fingers or overnight.”


Castro explained that homelessness is particularly relevant today as rental affordability is a challenge. “Family incomes are stressed since 40 percent to 50 percent of the income must go toward rental costs,” he said. “Homeownership rates are at one of the lowest levels in decades.”


“We really need communities executing on this. Keep on going. Keep on making every one proud,” Castro said.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Upcoming Events

Tue, May 29, 7:00 PM

The Heldrich Hotel, New Brunswick

New Jersey's Environment - A Pivotal Moment: an ...

Education Government Green Home & Garden Other

Wed, May 30, 7:30 AM

South Brunswick High School - Auxiliary Gym, Monmouth Junction

South Brunswick Community Blood Drive

Giving Back Health & Wellness

Wed, May 30, 6:30 PM

Cooper Conference Room, The Erdman Center, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton

Artists' Round Table with Performing Artists from ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Annual Immaculate Conception Carnival On Tap

May 23, 2018

SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Immaculate Conception will host their annual carnival on June 12 through June 16. The carnival will be open on Tuesday, June 12 through Friday, June 15 from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. and on Saturday, June 16 from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Fireworks will close out the five-day event on June 16.

The Immaculate Conception Summer Carnival is a family-friendly, community event that includes ...

PayPal CEO says Rutgers grads need to "Help Repair the World"

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, called on the Class of 2018 on Sunday to take a stand for social justice as they graduate during a time of unprecedented technological and social change.

He talked about the decision at PayPal to rescind plans to build a global operations center in North Carolina following legislation many considered discriminatory ...

3 Stabbed in Late Night Assault at Party

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Three people were stabbed following a fight at a party late Saturday on Delafield Street between Bristol and Courtland streets, Rutgers police said in an alert sent out to students.

The assault, which was not on the Rutgers University campus, occurred about 11:45 p.m., police said.

They said the victims are not affiliated with the university. All three victims reported ...

Belmar Mayor’s Pardoning of Lobster Will Kick Off New Jersey Seafood Festival

May 17, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — With the start of the New Jersey Seafood Festival tomorrow, Belmar Mayor Brian Magovern wants to show a lobster some love.

At 3:30 p.m. on May 18, he will kick off the annual three-day event by pardoning “Lucky Larry the Lobster” on the Fifth Avenue beach and then releasing it into the ocean … hopefully.

“In my power as mayor, I want to pardon a ...

Rutgers Center Battles Noise Pollution Nationwide

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Eric Zwerling got a call this week from a man was living next to a fitness center, complaining he repeatedly heard the loud thud heavy free weights and medicine balls hit the floor.

The man was recovering from having a pace maker in his chest and wondering of the impact of the noise from the gym.

“I’ve received thousands of calls,” said Zwerling, ...

Inclusion Center to Start Programs on June 2

May 23, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Disability Allies, Inc. (DA), a 501(c)(3) organization based in East Brunswick opened the Young Adult Inclusion Center on April 28, 2018 is featuring a variety of programs to Young Adults with Special Needs in the following areas: Technology, Music, Theatre/Drama, Cooking/Baking, Arts & Crafts, and Poetry & Creative Writing. The programs are set to begin on June ...

Senator Robert Menendez to Give the Keynote Address to Progressive Grassroots Group

Senator Robert Menendez will be the keynote speaker that the Inaugural Gala presented by Action Together New Jersey (ATNJ), the state’s largest progressive grassroots organization.

“I am honored and humbled that Action Together New Jersey asked me to keynote this year’s gala,” Sen. Menendez said. “After a 2016 election that shook many New Jerseyans to their core, ...

"Itʼs Time for New Leadership" Say Middlesex County Republicans

On Tuesday, June 12th, elected county committee members of the Middlesex County Republican Organization will have a choice on who will be their next County Chair and party executive board.

Sharon D. Hubberman, former Middlesex County Freeholder Candidate, and current Perth Amboy Republican Chair has announced she will accept her nomination for the Middlesex County Republican Chairmanship ...