Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla’s Homelessness Task Force unveiled the results of months-long strategic planning to compassionately address homelessness in Hoboken.
In partnership with the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development (DCA), the Homelessness Task Force was a key partner in securing 25 Housing Choice Vouchers for the long-term homeless in our region. These vouchers will be administered by the DCA and can be used throughout Hudson County. Valued at about $10,000 annually, the vouchers are part of a Pilot program to provide supportive services to homeless individuals who are frequent users of the Hoboken University Medical Center and Jersey City Medical Center Emergency Rooms.
“This crisis knows no borders, and I am proud of the progress we have made in our collaborative work, which goes beyond simply handing someone a dollar or providing them with temporary shelter,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “Our efforts are multi-faceted, addressing the root causes of homelessness. Not only are we getting folks off the street, but we are equipping them with the tools necessary to avoid falling back into homelessness.”
Hoboken University Medical Center will provide $50,000 a year to Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC) to provide supportive housing services to 5 permanently housed clients. Jersey City Medical Center has committed to expanding their existing supportive housing program and dedicating new hospital funds to hire a full-time case manager to provide services to 20 additional individuals. This marks the first time that major hospital systems in New Jersey have committed funding to provide permanent supportive housing to individuals experiencing long-term homelessness.
Supportive services include the following: mental health care, substance abuse treatment, primary and dental health services, literacy and employment programs, education and financial services, family and social supports, income support and benefits, medication adherence, and other services specifically tailored to the individual’s needs.
A key win for homelessness prevention efforts in our City, the Homelessness Task Force has worked out an agreement for the City to lease 1,000 sq. ft ground floor piece of City property in The Harlow (1330 Willow Ave) to the non-profit organization, the Easterseals, for the annual rate of $1. Easterseals will use this space to serve two of our area’s communities that are statistically at-risk of falling through the cracks. The Easterseals staff will offer supportive employment services for adults with special needs and employment training and preparedness services for seniors looking to reenter the workforce.
The Homelessness Task Force’s work will also lead to will also see the opening of Hoboken’s only “all-serving” food pantry in the Hoboken Community Center, formerly known as the YMCA. MBS Housing secured a $10,000 donation to renovate a storage room into a full-service food pantry.
Eight donation meters, sponsored by Hudson Pride Center, will be placed around Hoboken for residents to give money to nonprofits addressing homelessness. The donations are collected and distributed by the United Way of Hudson County. The donation meters themselves are provided by the IPS Group, cost-free, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility division.
These programs, and more, will be launched in the coming weeks and months.
This City of Hoboken Task Force was formed by Mayor Bhalla earlier this year. It includes Chief of Staff John Allen, Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Freeman, Chief of Constituent Affairs Caroline Caulfield, Community Development Director Brandy Forbes, Health & Human Services Director Leo Pellegrini, Principal Planner Chris Brown, Police Chief Ken Ferrante, and Police Lieutenant John Orrico.
The task force has worked closely with local partners. These partners include the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development, the Hoboken Community Center, the Hudson County Alliance to End Homelessness, the Hoboken Shelter, Hoboken University Medical Center, United Way of Hudson County, Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation, Hudson Pride Center, and the Hoboken faith community.
The Homelessness Task Force is an evolving partnership. The Task Force meets regularly to address this national crisis on the municipal level. They will continue to work to advance their mission, developing new and innovative strategies, including new partners in their work, and identifying creative funding sources. If you are a local business owner or a member of an organization that you think could serve as a meaningful partner in this work, please contact Caroline Caulfield, Chief of Constituent Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.