PHOTO: Freeholder John P. Curley (left) is pictured with Reverend Ricky Pierce, Sr., Assistant Pastor of the New Beginnings Agape Christian Center in Freehold, for the 2014 Project Homeless Connect on Jan. 29.
County staff and volunteers offer goods, services to those in need
FREEHOLD, N.J. – Monmouth County’s annual Project Homeless Connect, a one-stop event to provide various health and human services for homeless residents or those who are on in danger of becoming homeless, was held this week in Asbury Park, Freehold and Red Bank.
“We offered a warm coat, personal care items and a range of health services to people,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the County’s Department of Human Services. “Coats, blankets and hot beverage were important and needed, but we also wanted to make sure that each person who needs and wants assistance is being helped.”
Project Homeless Connect is the umbrella name for a nationwide effort to bring attention to efforts to end homelessness. People without a permanent residence or who are at risk of being homeless were encouraged to participate.
Attendees completed a very brief survey form before being provided food, clothing, free health screenings, employment resources and other services.
“This year we provided services to 196 individuals at the three locations,” Curley said. “The purpose of Project Homeless Connect, coupled with the Point in Time survey, is to get a better idea as to who is homeless and out there somewhere.”
The freezing temperatures and the snow storm on Wednesday played a role in reducing the number of folks who turned out for this annual event.
“Anyone who is vulnerable and close to homelessness – especially families with younger children, need to know that there is help available,” Curley said. “Shelter, food stamps and many other services can help improve their quality of life.”
“This is an annual, unified effort to reach people who do not have a permanent shelter,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, director of the County’s Division of Planning and Contracting for the Department of Human Services. “While County staff and volunteers gathered information at designated locations, others were collecting information about people housed at other locations by various housing agencies and coordinating efforts with municipal representatives to locate unsheltered individuals.”
Not included in the totals from the three locations are individuals who are in transitional housing, emergency housing, motels, hotels, boarding homes or other locations.
Curley noted that the Sandy Homeowner/Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP) is helping many potentially homeless individuals and families with a mortgage or rent subsidy as well.
“Some of the people displaced by Sandy were counted last year because they were being housed in motels and hotels,” explained Schwartz. “Anyone still displaced by Sandy should continue to be in contact with FEMA and the County’s Long Term Recovery Group to maximize the resources available.”
The primary goal of Project Homeless Connect is to gain an accurate picture of the number of people who experience homelessness and to work toward providing them with needed services, Schwartz said.
“Donations of time, space and resources by businesses and not-for profit groups make the Project Homeless Connect event possible,” Curley said. “Monmouth County is a very caring community and we appreciate the time, talents and goods that make a positive impact in the lives of people who need these items and seek these services.”
The count is part of an annual point-in-time survey of the homeless population in the New Jersey. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that such a count of the homeless be done every year.
Organizations that donated time and resources for Monmouth County’s 2014 Point in Time Survey and Project Homeless Connect include:
Adelphia Donuts LLC
Affordable Housing Alliance
ARC of Monmouth, Tinton Falls
Arrow Limousine Worldwide
Asbury Park Social Services
Brookdale Community College
Burlington Coat Factory
Catholic Charities – Linkages
Central Jersey Family Health Consortium
Child Care Resources
Community Affairs & Resource Center
Community Health Law Project – Asbury Park
Comprehensive Emergency Assistance System (CEAS)
Division of Child Protection & Permanency
Easter Seals NJ – Adult Shelter
Family & Children’s Services
Family Promise of Monmouth County
Feed All God’s Children – Jim Benedict
Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties
Frank’s Deli – Baked Goods
Freehold Area Open Door
Habitat for Humanity
Howell Alliance and Schools
I Beseech Thee Community Development Corp.
Interfaith Neighbors – Nancy Flanigan, Heather Schulze and Catherine Wieczorek, Site Coordinators for Asbury Park
Investors Savings Bank
JBJ Soul Foundation
Jersey Shore Rescue Mission
Jersey Shore University Medical Center
Manna House - Peggy Comfort, Site Coordinator for Freehold
Monmouth County Human Services Advisory Council
Monmouth County Department of Human Services
- Divisions of Aging, Disabilities and Veterans Services; Mental Health and Addiction Services; Planning and Contracting and Social Services
Monmouth County Department of Workforce Development
Monmouth County Buildings & Grounds
Monmouth County Community Development
New Beginnings Agape Christian Center
New Jersey City University - Cheryl Leiningen, Assistant Professor and accelerated BSN Students, Wall NJ Campus
New Jersey Department of Labor-One Stop Center
New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency
New Jersey Natural Gas
New Jersey Youth Corps – Asbury Park
180, Turning Lives Around
Ocean Monmouth Legal Services
One Warm Coat
Paul David Party Supplies
Paul M. McGuire Family Health Center
Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red Bank
Salvation Army, Asbury Park
Signs, Sealed and Delivered
Social Security Administration
Soleil Tans - Matawan
Soul Kitchen in Red Bank
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
The City of Asbury Park
United Way of Monmouth County
VNA Health Group
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Winifred Canright House