Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver (D), Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and various other public officials gathered at the Brennan Courthouse to unveil a new homelessness prevention initiative known as “Hudson County Familiar Faces.”
The state Department of Community Affairs will provide up to 25 housing choice vouchers, which can be used throughout New Jersey, while the Jersey City Medical Center and the Hoboken University Medical Center will provide support services for those encountering long-term homelessness.
“I think that as a state government, we have, for decades, worked with counties about delivering social services. And one of the primary issues all of the counties face is services delivered to homeless populations,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said in an interview with Hudson County View.
“And many of the funds from the federal government were never designed to help people long term and we knew we had to create some intervention strategies that would be long term solutions for chronically homeless people.”
Oliver also praised that fact that JCMC and the HUMC, the latter which falls under the CarePoint Health banner, are willing to invest their time, money and resources into the cause.
“People really don’t understand how huge it is that hospitals in the New Jersey Hospital Association has embraced this initiative, and as a result, we’re going to see hospitals all across the state commit financial resource, to help us as state and local government, provide housing to homeless people.”
According to the DCA, HUMC will be providing $50,000 a year to the Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation, who will provide support services to five of their housed individuals.
Additionally, JCMC will expand their supporting housing program to include a full-time case manager, who will oversee providing services to up to 20 housed individuals, officials said.
The lieutenant governor added that the long-term goal, in approximately the next two years, is to see 180 to 240 new housing units built in Hudson County.
Bhalla, who announced the formation of a homelessness task force in June, stressed a multifaceted approach to the problem that includes mitigation, prevention and compassion.
Of note, the Mile Square City is prepared to provide an office space to the Easterseals, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities, as well as opening a food pantry and providing eight donation meters – where the money will go to nonprofits addressing homeless – throughout Hoboken.
“It is my privilege to announce today that they [homelessness task force] have secured a $10,000 donation to establish Hoboken’s first food pantry, open to all who are in need … to ensure its success, the task force has partnered with the Hoboken public school system to help with food drives and fundraising for the food pantry,” Bhalla said at the presser.
The pantry will be located at the location of the old Hoboken YMCA, 1301 Washington St.
“Ending homelessness is ultimately about cooperation and coordination – and that was the role we were glad to play here to get this new Housing First Program, Familiar Faces, off the ground,” DeGise said in a statement.
“I want to thank our Community Development staff, Garden State Episcopal, both of these outstanding care providers, and the DCA for working together to help take this important next step in providing additional permanent supportive housing units for the homeless in Hudson County.”
State Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31), Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro, Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5), HUMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Meika Roberson and JCMC President and CEO Joe Scott also participated in the event.
The press conference, which streamed live on our Facebook page, can be viewed below: