Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Second homeless forum in Toms River

2nd forum links business leaders-clergy-government to investigate homeless solutions
A second forum, sponsored by Kiwanis and Rotary clubs in Ocean County, will bring together the homeless, business leaders, clergy, government officials and interested residents to discuss strategies to eliminate temporary and long-term homelessness in Ocean County.
More than 170 people attended a homeless forum in January and learned the personal stories of men, women and children who are living on the streets of Ocean County during this harsh winter.
The second forum will take place Monday March 28 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington St. Participants will discuss strategies that have been successfully employed elsewhere in the state and find ways to adapt them to Ocean County’s needs.
 “Following the January forum many people asked how they could help the homeless,” said   Kiwanis Club of Jackson President Fran Polito.  “This follow up forum will provide them with options to assist those in need.”
“After listening to the heartbreaking stories of the homeless, listening to former professionals who had solid careers and stable homes tell of events that were beyond their control rob them of all that, we all realize that these same thing can happen to us,” said Carl Nuermberger, a member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Toms River.
Among the solutions to be discussed at the forum will be the Housing First model and the County Homelessness Trust Fund.
The Housing First model seeks to provide shelter for the homeless without preconditions to entering the program.
The trust fund allows county governments to implement a three-dollar surcharge to land transfer deeds. The proceeds can be used to provide housing and services to families who are homeless. 
Nine counties in New Jersey have approved the trust fund.  Ocean County has yet to approve it.
The forum will give the business and professional communities an opportunity to offer their expertise in finance to combat homelessness. 
Clergy members will share how their congregations are galvanizing around the issues of social justice for the homeless.
Government officials will be able to establish a network and work together to provide housing for their residents.
Everyone is invited to attend the March 28th forum and are urged to bring suggestions to end homelessness.  The forum is free and open to the public.
Groups that assist the homeless will also be on hand at 6 p.m. to showcase their group’s activities and offer people opportunities to volunteer.

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