A new, 150-bed homeless shelter is set to open in 2019 as a result of a deal between the city, Catholic Charities and a private developer, also paving the way for a 430-unit residential building on the current site of the St. Lucy’s emergency shelter in exchange for wholly funding the construction of a new shelter across the street.
Mayor Steven Fulop said in his opening remarks on Thursday afternoon at the City Hall annex that the city worked on the project for more than two years “to find a solution to a growing problem in Jersey City. It’s not a problem unique to Jersey City, it’s a problem facing every city across the country.”
Catholic Charities CEO John Westervelt noted that the new shelter will provide more beds than compared to the current 125-bed shelter, which on some nights shelters up to 150 people, and also 15 affordable units for the chronically homeless.
We interviewed Westervelt about the current population that is in need of shelter.
“Our population is majority young people in the ages of 21 to 30. That’s the usual population in the last 30 years, young people coming out of hard times after using drugs and alcohol and ending up on the streets,” Westervelt began.
“But what we’re seeing recently is more elderly people who thought that they had enough money to retire with pensions, but they’re not, and they end up falling on hard times and all their money goes away and they end up on the streets of Jersey City.”
He added that Catholic Charities has a contract with the Port Authority’s PATH station to pick up 45 to 50 people per night who just ride the trains to/from Jersey City because they’re homeless and use the PATH trains and stations as a sleeping quarter.
Fulop stressed that the city’s taxpayers will not be allocating one dime towards the new shelter because the private developer, Claremont Companies, agreed to fund the new shelter with city approval to build 390 additional units than current zoning allows on the current site of the St. Lucy’s emergency shelter.
Additionally, Westervelt said that Catholic Charities agreed to re-locate the new shelter across the street so long as the organization wasn’t required to pay for the new construction.
Furthermore, he noted, the organization has to fundraise annually up to $500,000 just to sustain the shelter’s daily operations.
The press conference streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: