“New Jersey’s homeless shelters fight for a seat at the table” (CentralJersey.com, 7/14/2021)
The New Jersey Shelter Providers Consortium has become a voice for the state’s homeless shelter community and those they serve.
Tucked into the state’s $46.4 billion budget is a $9 million appropriation for shelter worker pay increases – a provision unlikely to have even been written, much less passed, without the concerted efforts of Sen. Shirley Turner (D-15) and members of the consortium.
“N.J. woman who opened LGBTQ youth shelter is now building permanent supportive housing” (NJ.com, 6/30/2021)
Elaine Helms opened a homeless shelter for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth after she was injured in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks while working for the Port Authority.
“During my recovery, I had to seriously pray and think about what my life’s purpose was and I often wondered why I made it and so many others didn’t,” said Helms, who created the RAIN Foundation in 2013 and opened a shelter in East Orange that houses up to 12 LGBT youth.
“N.J. mask mandates mostly going away. But here’s where masks will still be required.” (NJ.com, 5/26/21)
The indoor mask mandate New Jersey installed to battle the coronavirus pandemic effectively ends Friday for a vast majority of settings — including restaurants, stores, movie theaters, and dozens of other venues…
But don’t toss your mask stash just yet. Here are the places they’ll still be required:
- Health care settings like hospitals and medical offices
- Public, private or parochial preschool programs and elementary and secondary schools
- Long-term care facilities and nursing homes
- Trains, planes, buses and any other form of public transportation, including at train stations and inside airports
- Any state office building the public might visit, like the Motor Vehicle Commission
- Homeless shelters
“Homelessness in N.J. increased before pandemic, annual count shows” (NJ.com, 3/22/2021)
New Jersey’s homeless population grew by 9% last year, a bigger increase than 42 other states, according to a study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The count conducted on Jan. 28, 2020, found 9,662 homeless individuals, up from 8,862 in 2019, according to the HUD report released Thursday.
“Newark unveils homeless shelter made from converted shipping containers” (NJ.com, 3/8/2021)
Newark Homelessness Czar Sakinah Hoyte held back tears as she unvield a lot filled with seven converted shipping containers to house 24 residents without addresses for a 90-day pilot program.
“We have been able to do what felt like the impossible in establishing a beautiful, dignified, safe sleeping village rooted in love for our most vulnerable residents,” said Hoyte on Monday as she and other officials announced the opening of the site.
“Newark moves on $2M commitment to build 100 units of housing for homeless” (NJ.com, 2/5/2021)
The City of Newark has selected five developers to build 100 units of housing with supportive services for homeless residents after advertising a $2 million commitment to finance the projects.
The funding, which comes from the city’s own coffers, would ultimately save Newark more than $1 million in sheltering annually, officials previously said.
“Toms River Needs a Homeless Shelter Turnbach Says, But Where?” (Shore News, 12/21/2020)
Toms River Township Councilman Terrance Turnbach hopes to one day become a judge in the State of New Jersey, but before that, he wants to leave his legacy in his home town. Turnbach has been lobbying for a homeless shelter for all of Ocean County to be built in Toms River. It’s a noble and valiant effort made more critical during the long cold Jersey winters where temperatures have been in the teens recently, overnight.
Turnbach last month lashed out at the freeholders for not having a plan for the homeless here at the Jersey Shore and he lashed out at other towns for not sharing his fervor for a legitimate homeless shelter.
“Two women strive to shelter Cumberland County homeless after law change” (Press of Atlantic City, 12/20/2020)
A change to the state’s Code Blue alert law early this year has strained the services of agencies that shelter Cumberland County’s homeless during frigid nights.
The programs have managed to continue, though, due in part to the efforts of two women working with support from the community, little sleep and a deep faith in God.
“They are all great. They go over and above than what they need to,” said a homeless man of one of the women, Denise Arrigo, 68, of Millville.
“Barely above water” (NJ.com, 12/9/2020)
New Jerseyans living in public housing confront financial hardship. As many as 15,000 also face rising tides that could wreck their homes.
“School Districts Saw Unprecedented Drop in Enrollment During Pandemic” (CBS 60 Minutes, 11/22/2020)
Going back to school this year has been a lesson in patience. Since the surge of COVID cases this fall, many cities, including New York, Detroit and Philadelphia, have suspended or postponed their plans to hold in-person classes.
The delays and ever changing schedules have been frustrating to parents and students but also worrisome to educators who told us at the start of the school year, hundreds of thousands of students did not enroll. They’re not logging in or coming in. We wondered, where did they go?
“Shelter in trying times” (NJ.com, 11/23/2020)
It was about 5 p.m., the regular pickup time for the Just Believe van, which on frigid nights shuttles men, women and sometimes children from downtown Toms River to the shelter in a township recreation center at Riverwood Park. The temperature was in the mid-30s, but the wind made it feel colder, and it would drop to 27 degrees overnight.
The warming shelter satisfies a requirement for Toms River and Ocean County under the state’s 2017 Code Blue law, which mandates that municipalities with a homeless population of 10 or more make such shelters available on nights when the temperature drops below freezing between Nov. 1 and March 31.
“Professionals, executives, teachers now join the ranks of the hungry, say NJ food pantries” (NorthJersey.com, 11/19/2020)
“New faces, new customers, are always good news. Unless your business happens to be a food pantry.
As the pandemic stretches into its eighth month, as unemployment spikes and the winter holidays loom, business — the hunger business — is booming.”
“‘I feel really, really helpless’: NJ renters and landlords face looming eviction crisis” (NorthJersey.com, 11/19/2020)
Annis Nanton could no longer afford her $1,600 monthly rent.
The 54-year-old Jersey City resident worked as a home health aide. But in May, the older woman she cared for died from COVID, Nanton said.
So she searched for new jobs, called charity numbers, went to the food pantry to feed herself and her two kids. She couldn’t reach anyone in the unemployment office, and her daughter was denied food stamps, she said. She also had to cope with the recent deaths of her sister and mother.
Her landlord kept asking her to pay — or leave. The landlord needed a tenant who could pay rent so she could cover her mortgage. By the end of July, Nanton’s landlord filed an eviction notice, since she owed more than $10,000.
As we mark Veterans Day on Wednesday, a federal holiday that honors men and women who have served in the armed forces, one veteran is working to raise awareness about a growing problem in New Jersey and across the country — the rise of homeless women veterans.
Lt. Commander Kristin Leone, who served as a nurse in Kandahar, Afghanistan, five years ago, is in the Navy Nurse Corps Reserves and teaches nursing at several universities while also working part time in the intensive care unit at Virtua Voorhees Hospital.
Leone is a Top 25 Finalist in Ms. Veteran America 2020, a contest with proceeds focused on raising awareness about the issue of homeless women who have served in the military.
She said officially there are 4,300 homeless women veterans in New Jersey and across the country but the real number is probably double or triple that because homeless population counts may easily miss these people.
“Expecting Harsh Winter For Homeless, Union County Board OKs Added Shelter Funds” (Tap into Westfield, 11/6/2020)
In anticipation of an increase in the homeless population due to strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Union County Freeholders have approved additional funding for housing the homeless this winter.
The freeholders approved up to $100,000, which would go towards sheltering the homeless populations Oct 1. — Dec. 1, in hotels and motels, according to County Director of Human Services Debbie-Ann Anderson. The freeholder board approved the funding on Thursday.
The monies will be a part of the Countywide Code Blue initiative, which provides shelter to the homeless when temperatures dip below 25 degrees without precipitation or 32 degrees with precipitation.
“Newark plans new pedestrian skyway, and commuters are going to pay for it” (NJ.com, 10/24/2020)
A 3.5% parking tax imposed on commuters will pay for a new pedestrian bridge — located a short walk away from Prudential Center — that will connect Newark Penn Station to the Ironbound section of the city. The parking tax will also fund a new homeless shelter and transitional housing…
The city will own the homeless shelter, which will consist of 150 beds, but it will be operated by a different entity. The transitional housing will have 100 units. The cost of both will run between $20 to $40 million, Rogers said.
“The CARES Act Was Supposed to Protect NJ Tenants from Eviction. It Didn’t.” (Shelter Force, 10/21/2020)
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating economic impact on renters across the United States. Though several states issued moratoriums on evictions earlier this year and the Centers for Disease Control recently ordered a federal eviction moratorium that will last through the end of 2020, these actions have not and will not stop landlords from trying to remove tenants from their homes for nonpayment of rent.
“In New Jersey’s most segregated county, racism and coronavirus made racism a ‘vicious circle’” (USA Today, 10/21/2020)
Housing segregation made Essex County ripe for the virus’s spread, dozens of public health experts, community activists, researchers and housing advocates said.
They point to decades of housing policies – some unspoken, some written – that banned white property owners from selling homes to Black buyers. Those practices also excluded Black residents from the midcentury homeownership and wealth-building boom, and they kept communities of color concentrated in often poor and neglected neighborhoods.
Today, Essex County is home to some of the most segregated and impoverished communities in the U.S., where some residents jam together in cramped apartments, multi-generational homes and housing projects.
“Hundreds of N.J. prisoners expected to be released early are at risk of homelessness, records show” (NJ.com, 10/14/2020)
More than 240 prisoners set to be freed early do not currently have a safe place to live once they are released, according to a document by the governor’s office obtained by NJ Advance Media.
They are some of the 2,088 inmates expected to be freed after Gov. Phil Murphy signs a bill (S2519) reducing sentences in a prison system with the highest coronavirus death rate in the nation. Murphy is expected to approve the proposal next week and it will take effect Nov. 4, the day after the election, sources previously told NJ Advance Media.
“Landlords’ troubles deepen as state evictions ban protects nonpaying tenants” (NJ Spotlight, 9/28/20)
Tenants, unable to pay rent because they have lost their jobs or fallen ill with the virus, are accumulating thousands of dollars in unpaid rent that may eventually lead to their eviction; some are being evicted anyway by unscrupulous landlords who are ignoring the state’s moratorium on evictions during the statewide health emergency.
Landlords, deprived of income for months but unable to evict nonpaying tenants, are struggling to pay mortgages and property-tax bills, deferring maintenance on their buildings, and in some cases considering bankruptcy.
“Hudson County homelessness increased 6% last year. COVID-19 has likely made things worse” (NJ.com, 9/22/2020)
Homelessness ticked up 6% in Hudson County last year, a slight increase that has almost certainly been exacerbated by the coronavirus.
January’s point-in-time count, an annual nationwide survey of all people experiencing homelessness, tallied an increase of 54 people in Hudson County. A report conducted by statewide housing advocacy group Monarch Housing found that homelessness had increased across New Jersey by an average of 9% between January 2019 and January 2020.