I first want to thank the Freeholders for setting aside time in their October 16th meeting agenda to give the community partners of Ocean County’s homeless an opportunity to address the needs of the homeless. The freeholders were also generous with their time to allow members of the audience a chance to share their experiences and support of the homeless.
The speakers were treated with respect and courtesy by the freeholders and just about everyone left with a feeling that something positive happened and we were all entering new territory in solving homelessness in Ocean County.
One of the most important lessons the homeless community has learned from three forums is the need to work collaboratively with several groups to end homelessness in Ocean County: county legislators, business people, clergy, community activists, and the homeless. No one group has all the answers, nor all the resources.
At the conclusion of the presentation I offered an invitation to the freeholders to join in a collaborative effort and discuss the homeless situation.
I am sorry, and I know many others are disappointed, in the freeholders’ decision to not sit down to discuss the issue in more depth. We do realize that their decision still allows us to meet together in the future when the litigation is resolved.
The saddest part of the freeholders’ decision is its effect on the homeless. While we are in our warm beds they are out there in the elements. While we debate, they suffer.
The community partners will continue to work to improve the services and the way they are delivered to the homeless. And we will leave an open space at the table to welcome the county officials to join us.