SOMERVILLE - The Somerset County Department of Human Services is seeking donations of personal and clothing items to be included in packages that will be distributed on Wednesday, Jan. 28, when the county conducts its annual “Point-in-Time” survey of homeless individuals and families in Somerset County.
Requested personal items include shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, feminine-hygiene products and new blankets and towels.  Clothing items include new hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, socks, underwear, T-shirts,  sweatshirts and sweatpants. Other items include bottled water, juice boxes and individually wrapped snacks, such as granola bars, crackers, nuts and trail mix.
“I want to thank the public for their generosity in the past,” said Freeholder Brian Levine, human services liaison.  “Given the difficult economy, individuals and families that are already vulnerable are finding it even more difficult to make ends meet, and any donations would be greatly appreciated.”
Donations may be dropped off weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  through Friday, Jan 23, at the Somerset County Community Development Office, located on the fourth floor of the Human Services Building at 27 Warren St. The office will be closed Jan. 19, for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. 

Free parking is available in the parking deck at 27 Warren St., on the third and fourth floors only. Additional free parking is available about two blocks away in the Bernie Field Parking Deck on East High Street, adjacent to the county administration building.  Exit the parking deck from the rear, cross Main Street and proceed to Warren Street.  Metered parking is available on Main Street. 
“Point-in-Time” volunteers will interview the homeless as part of Project Homeless Connect, which will be hosted on the same day at Freedom Trail Self Help Center, located at 166 W. Main St.  Social services organizations will be on hand to screen clients for relevant services and distribute donated items.
The survey is part of a statewide effort to obtain an accurate snapshot of New Jersey’s homeless population in response to a directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The data is also used by the county and local non-profit agencies when applying for grants to assist the homeless population.
Collecting baseline data is essential to understanding the causes of homelessness and designing effective responses.  Somerset County is required to report the number of people who are homeless at particular intervals in order to apply for HUD Continuum-of-Care funding, which is a discretionary grant that provides housing and supportive services to people with special needs.  Data collection at regular intervals also helps track progress toward reducing homelessness.
For more information, contact Jeremy Hirsch, Somerset County Community Development Office, at (908) 541-5756 or