Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NJ Governor issues order to end homelessness

Governor Chris Christie Takes Action to Combat Homelessness in New Jersey
·         Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Signs Executive Order to Form Interagency Council on Homelessness and Develop Ten-Year Plan
Trenton, NJ – Today, Governor Chris Christie signed Executive Order 92 creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness to combat homelessness as part of the Administration’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable New Jerseyans. The Council is tasked with better identifying and addressing the needs of homeless New Jerseyans as part of a longterm plan to help assist those individuals affected by homelessness and to prevent homelessness from taking hold in the future. This cooperation and planning will strengthen existing efforts by improving the coordination and delivery of programs and services to those in need.  
Governor Christie signed Executive Order 92 at HomeFront in Ewing, an organization that works to combat homelessness by increasing the availability of adequate, affordable housing for New Jersey families in need of assistance. The Governor was joined by Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez and Deputy Commissioner of Community Affairs (DCA) Charles Richman. The Council will be co-chaired by the commissioners of DHS and DCA.
“Homelessness in our society often touches each of our communities in a personal way and too often fails to get the attention it deserves. It is our neighbors, friends and sometimes family members who, having fallen on difficult times, struggle to have their basic housing needs met,” said Governor Christie. “Right now, New Jersey has a strong set of services available to assist our homeless residents get back on their feet, but they are not applied in a strategic and coordinated way. We can do better to serve families who need help now, and deliver services in a more organized way to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place.”
According to a January 2012 report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, New Jersey’s rate of chronic homelessness has decreased by 20 percent, indicating progress in identifying and working with individuals with substance use disorders, disabilities, mental illness or medical issues. However, overall homelessness has increased over that same period (7%), which means there is still work to be done to support families and veterans.
“Without a place to call home, it's incredibly difficult to secure and retain a job or nurture a family," said Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez. "Safe, permanent housing truly is a key factor in helping people attain self sufficiency."
Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget proposal acts on a commitment to provide housing assistance for New Jerseyans who are in need. In addition to providing $2.3 million to expand the successful Veteran’s Haven – the veterans transitional housing program – to the northern part of the state, Governor Christie’s budget provides critical funding for housing assistance programs such as the State Rental Assistance Program ($21 million), the Homelessness Prevention Program ($4.4 million), and Shelter Assistance ($2.3 million). 
In addition, the Department of Human Services serves many homeless residents through its General Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs. Both provide supports that include temporary shelter placement, rental assistance, medical coverage, food assistance and job training. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget protects $78.6 million in funding for the WorkFirst New Jersey program, which helps people get off welfare, secure employment and become self-sufficient through job training, education and work activities. Other state services also are provided to homeless individuals who have mental health or addiction disorders. 
These programs have helped make New Jersey a leader in preventing chronic homelessness in New Jersey, but homelessness continues to affect too many New Jersey families. The Governor’s action today will mobilize the state government in a more efficient, coordinated and strategic manner around the goal of finally ending homelessness in the state.
“Today, we are taking action to more effectively address the needs of homeless New Jerseyans across every aspect of state government, with the goal of identifying and preventing the many different causes of homelessness. Ultimately, I believe that as leaders we must set high, achievable goals for the serious challenges we face, which is why the Council also will be charged with developing a 10-year plan to combat homeless over the long-term,” added Governor Christie.
The Interagency Council on Homelessness will be established within the Department of Human Services, be comprised of 15 public members, and operate until December 31, 2014. Its duties and responsibilities include:
·         A review of the findings contained in the Interim Report of the Council on Preventing and Reducing Homelessness;
·         Identifying and evaluating the statutory and regulatory impediments to the effective delivery of services to homeless individuals and families;
·         Providing recommendations to improve relevant laws, programs and policies to better utilize state resources directed to homelessness and homelessness prevention;
·         Preparing a 10-year plan to end homelessness in New Jersey; and,
·         Reporting annually to the Governor on the Council’s work and progress.

In addition, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, the Senate Minority Leader, and the Assembly Minority Leader each may appoint a member of the Legislature, or his or her designee, to serve on the Council.

Executive Order 92

WHEREAS, New Jersey faces the problem of insufficient
shelter for a growing number of homeless individuals and
families, including seniors, people with disabilities, children,
and veterans; and
WHEREAS, housing is one of the basic needs of all
individuals and families within the State of New Jersey and
across the nation; and
WHEREAS, homelessness creates barriers to safety, health,
education, and full productive participation in the community;
WHEREAS, each year, individuals and families lose their
housing and become homeless due to assorted unforeseen
circumstances and often through no fault of their own; and
WHEREAS, there is no single, simple solution to the
problems of homelessness because of the different subpopulations
of the homeless, the different causes of and reasons
for homelessness, and the different needs of homeless
individuals and families; and
WHEREAS, the United States Interagency Council on
Homelessness, created in 1987 pursuant to what is now known as
the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11311 et
seq., supports the creation of national partnerships at every
level of government and with the private sector to prevent and
reduce homelessness in the nation;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, CHRIS CHRISTIE, Governor of the State of
New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the
Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER
1. There is hereby established in the Department of Human
Services (“DHS”) an Interagency Council on Homelessness (the
2. The membership of the Council shall be comprised of
the following: (i) the Commissioners of the Department of
Children and Families, the Department of Community Affairs
(“DCA”), the Department of Corrections, the Department of
Education, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the
Department of Human Services, and the Department of Labor and
Workforce Development, the Executive Director of the New Jersey
Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, the Chair of the State
Parole Board, the Adjutant General of the Department of Military
and Veterans Affairs, and a representative of the Office of the
Governor, each of whom shall serve ex officio and may appoint a
designee; and (ii) fifteen (15) public members appointed by the
3. The Commissioners of DHS and DCA, or their designees,
shall act as co-chairpersons of the Council.
4. The public members of the Council shall serve at the
pleasure of the Governor and without compensation.
5. The Council shall meet on a regular basis as
determined by the co-chairpersons.
6. The Council shall:
a. Consider the Interim Report issued by the Council
on Preventing and Reducing Homelessness;
b. Identify statutory and regulatory impediments to
the effective provision of services to homeless individuals and
families and recommend changes to relevant laws, regulations,
programs, and policies in order to better address the use of
State funds directed to homelessness and homelessness
c. Prepare an annual report to the Governor by or
before December 31st of each year through the term of the Council
detailing the work of the Council over the previous twelve
months; and
d. Utilizing the aforementioned reports and building
upon the interim findings and recommendations of the Council,
prepare a comprehensive ten-year plan to prevent and end
homelessness in New Jersey.
7. The Council shall organize and meet as soon as
practicable after the appointment of a majority of its members.
8. Staffing for the Council shall be undertaken and
coordinated by DHS and DCA.
9. The Council is authorized to call upon any department,
division, office, or agency of State government to provide such
information, resources, or other assistance deemed necessary to
discharge its responsibilities under this Order. Each
department, division, office, and agency of this State is hereby
required, to the extent not inconsistent with law, to cooperate
with the Council and to furnish it with such information,
personnel, and assistance as is necessary to accomplish the
purposes of this Order.
10. The Council shall operate until December 31, 2014.
11. This Order shall take effect immediately.
GIVEN, under my hand and seal this
18th day of April,
Two Thousand and Twelve,
and of the Independence of
the United States, the Two
Hundred and Thirty-Sixth.
/s/ Chris Christie
/s/ Charles B. McKenna
Chief Counsel to the Governor

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Free Webinar on the Rise of Tent Cities in the United States

On Wednesday, May 2, the Law Center will host a free webinar previewing its upcoming report, "Welcome Home: The Rise of Tent Cities in the United States."
With homelessness and poverty at record levels, there have been increasing reports of homeless encampments emerging in virtually every state in the country.
The response of municipalities has varied. Some have shut down camps, often arresting residents and destroying their property. Others have regularized the camps, allowing residents to build more permanent structures in place of tents. And some, commendably, have chosen to address the underlying issue - lack of housing - by helping residents access supportive housing.
 The Law Center has partnered with the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School to produce a report examining a few representative tent cities, with the goal of shedding light on why the camps exist, sharing stories of their residents, and demonstrating common ways communities have responded to the trend. The report also identifies the major human rights implications of forced evictions and offers best practices for municipalities.
To register for the webinar go here:
About the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
 The Law Center is the only national legal advocacy organization dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness in America.  It fights in the halls of power for laws and policies that protect homeless people's rights and help them rise out of poverty.

NJ Coalition to End Homelessness Announces Executive Director

April 16, 2012
 TRENTON -  The NJ Coalition to End Homelessness ("NJCEH") announced today that Tonya R. Bryan, Policy Advisor to Newark's Mayor Cory Booker, has agreed to serve as NJCEH's Executive Director.  As Mayor Booker's Policy Advisor on Homelessness, Ms. Bryan served as Co-Chair of the Essex-Newark Coalition to End Homelessness; worked on the development of the Essex-Newark Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness; and was successful in helping homeless men, women and children secure emergency shelter and affordable housing.  Ms. Bryan also served as the Director of the NEWARK NOW Family Success Center.
             NJCEH's President, Alison Recca-Ryan, announced:  "Tonya Bryan is a leader in the fight to end homelessness, and our Board of Trustees is thrilled that she has joined our coalition in its statewide mission:  to advocate, educate, organize and, if necessary, litigate for emergency and permanent solutions to homelessness. We believe in a New Jersey where no one is forced to sleep outside and where every man, woman and child lives in safe, affordable housing."   
For further information contact:

Alison Recca-Ryan, President
NJ Coalition to End Homelessness
650 South Broad Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08611


NJCEH, based in Trenton, is New Jersey's first organization dedicated to pursuing emergency and permanent solutions to homelessness throughout New Jersey, where tens of thousands of men, women and children are homeless each year.  NJCEH's nine-member Board of Trustees includes leaders from such prominent NJ organizations as the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, Homefront NJ, Monarch Housing Associates, the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center, United Way of Hudson County, R. B. Coe Development and Consulting, LLC, and Lowenstein Sandler PC.  For details, see or contact Alison Recca-Ryan, NJCEH President.

Community groups to rally for the homeless April 22

Press Release: for immediate release
TOMS RIVER -  Several local community and religious organizations will sponsor the Rally of Hope for Ocean County’s Homeless Sunday afternoon in Lakewood’s Towns Square on Clifton Avenue, between Third and Fourth streets.
The rally will begin at 12:30 p.m. and feature a meal for the participants, free haircuts, blood pressure readings, and information tables with distribution of toiletries and food.  It will also present seminars for the homeless and their supporters and a discussion of ending homelessness as a social justice issue by leaders representing four religious heritages: Evangelical Christianity; Judaism; Catholicism; and Muslim.
The League of Women Voters will also conduct a voter registration during the event.
In addition to assisting the homeless, the rally will give the public an opportunity to learn how they can take part in ending homelessness in Ocean County. It will also recognize the many groups that have helped the homeless during the past year.
The rally is free and open to the public and will end around 4 p.m.
Sponsors include the Kiwanis Club of Jackson, Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness, the Luminer Foundation, The Monmouth Presbytery, Homelessness Ended through Local Partners, and the Forked River Presbytery.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Invitation to a Poverty Summit in Trenton: May 21st

You Are Invited
The Anti-Poverty Network of NJ’s
POVERTY SUMMIT: A Call to Invest in the People of New Jersey
Monday May 21, 2012
9:00- 12:30PM
War Memorial, Trenton, NJ
The Summit will include reports on the current realities of poverty and income insecurity in New Jersey, with a special focus on Employment, Housing and Hunger.
Join community organizations, advocates, persons living in poverty, legislators, state officials and others in this dynamic dialogue.
12:30 Meet and Greet:
An informal dialogue time for Legislators and Constituents
Joyce Campbell, MSW, LCSW
Associate Executive Director for External Affairs
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton
383 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
609-394-5181 x1138

“It's not about CHARITY, It's about JUSTICE” Bono