Our purpose for the meeting is two-fold: to present what we have learned over the past couple of years by examining what has been successfully tried in the state; and to offer our assistance to work with county government to end homelessness in Ocean County. The most basic similarity both the county officials and our coalitions have can be taken from a letter published by the Ocean County Board of Social Services: "No one should be without a roof over their head and everyday we work to make certain our residents do not go hungry or homeless." (Excerpted from OC Board of Social Services, "A Gift of Shelter.")
Your presence at the Freeholder's meeting (Wednesday) will demonstrate the public's support for the homeless. You do not have to make a statement, though as with Freeholder meetings there is time for public comment (limited to 5 minutes) at the end of the meeting.
And while it is not my place to tell people what to say, our intent is not to make this a political issue but rather one about social justice. Let us lay out our findings and recommendations and make an offer to continue the dialogue.
I know there have been several false starts attempted with individual officials in the past, but I think this is the first time we will have made a presentation before the whole Board of Chosen Freeholders. Call me naive but I think this may signal a willingness to confront homelessness cooperatively. Several sides have expertise in various facets of the solution. Let this be an opportunity to start the discussion.
Thank you for your attention in this matter. I hope to see you at Wednesday's meeting (first floor of the OC Administration Building on the corner of Hooper Av & Washington St. @ 4 p.m. Free parking is available in the 5-story garage behind the Admin Building, accessible from Hadley Avenue.)
And (with apologies to those who differ with me on this, I mean no offense) please pray for the outcome of this meeting.