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Summit's Family Promise Joins NJ Housing Advocates on 'The Hill'

Family Promise advocates, from left, Rise Grady, Simeria DeWalt, Geleen Donovan, Amy Jones, and Jadyn Fauconier-Henry. Credits: Ashish Patel
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) Credits: Ashish Patel
Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ10) Credits: Ashish Patel

WASHINGTON, DC - Leaders from several Family Promise New Jersey Affiliates recently joined more than 450 affordable housing advocates in Washington, DC on for NJ Hill Day, imploring congress to take a stand against looming housing cuts. Directors Geleen Donovan (Union County), Kate Duggan (Bergen County), and Colleen Duerr (Hunterdon County) represented Family Promise in advocating for No Housing Cuts in the FY2018 budget.

The draft version of U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Committee bill cuts funding in several key areas -- including tenant protection vouchers, Community Development funds and grants, the Public Housing Capital Fund -- that states rely on for affordable housing resources that support low-income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and other vulnerable segments of the population.

As the national nonprofit with a stated mission to help families experiencing homelessness attain sustainable independence, Summit-based Family Promise is working to make sure that adequate federal funds remain in place to ensure the most vulnerable are safely and securely housed.

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The coalition that gathered in the Dirksen Senate Auditorium on Capitol Hill consisted of representatives from organizations including Family Promise, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Enterprise Communities, Homefirst, and Monarch Housing Associates. Both New Jersey senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, and nine of NJ’s U.S. representatives, including Donald Payne from the 10th District, attended the reception to speak to and hear from their constituents on the issue.

“Americans believe in justice for all and one of the most fundamental rights is a place to call home,” said Booker. “If we ever give up on the ideal of a safe, decent place to call home for every American, we give up on America. We have a right and obligation to fight for housing for all.”

Family Promise Union County (FPUC) graduate guest Simeria DeWalt also traveled to speak at the event – she has received a Section 8 voucher for the past 18 months. She talked about how getting that voucher provided her family with stable housing and allowed her to reunite her family as two of her four children were living in shelters and foster care until she secured housing. She shared that since receiving stable housing, she and her son have both earned GED’s and she will be going to college in the fall.  She is concerned that, due to the housing cuts, she may lose her home, but she felt compelled to speak.

“I’m afraid of losing my kids -- seeing them go back into the system again,” she said.  “There’s a time to be quiet and a time to speak, and I went to Washington to speak.  We should ‘be not silent in a noisy world with no peace.’”

Family Promise Union County Director Geleen Donovan said, “The proposed federal budget cuts will cause more homelessness, as thousands of people who were homeless and now live in permanent housing will lose their subsidy. There will be less funding for emergency shelter for the increased homeless population.  These cuts will hurt the most vulnerable people in our country.”



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