Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fordham Student Reaches Out to Needy with Blessing Bag Project


The Tumblr post caught Paulette Thomas’ attention around Thanksgiving. 

“Have you ever come across a homeless individual and felt totally uncomfortable?” it began.  

The post, which has been shared multiple times across the social network, struck a chord with Thomas, a junior majoring in Information Science at Fordham College at Rose Hill.

Inspired by its message of charity and good will, Thomas and five friends will fan out across the city on Dec. 23 to deliver “Blessing Bags” to homeless people they encounter on the street.

Each bag will contain toiletries, snacks, a change of socks, spare change, and other useful items.

To read the story in the Fordham Notes news blog click here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

APP coverage of the Interfaith National Homeless Night Memorial and Rally

The Asbury Park Press covered the Interfaith National Homeless Night Memorial and Rally held in Lakewood's Town Center Dec. 21st, the longest night of the year.

To read the story click here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

OCL to host 2 programs about human trafficking during January

2 Human Trafficking Awareness programs to be presented at Ocean County Library

TOMS RIVER  -  Ocean County Library will present two programs about human trafficking in January and will discuss ways that individuals can halt its spread.

The Barnegat Light Area Branch of the American Association of University Women has chosen to campaign against and raise awareness about human trafficking by sponsoring these programs. 

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery whose victims include men, women and children of all ages and ethnicity.  It is also a first-degree crime with a penalty of 20 years to life in prison.

There are two types of human trafficking: labor trafficking where people are forced to work for no pay; and sex trafficking.

Because of its geographical location, New Jersey has the potential to be a major entry, transit and destination for human trafficking. And because of the Super Bowl in February, many law enforcement officials fear an increase in sex trafficking in New Jersey.

New Jersey has passed a stringent new law that will aid law enforcement in the apprehension and conviction of those persons caught engaging in it, and have created a Human Trafficking Task Force and website to educate the public in ways to identify and help victims.

Learn more about human trafficking at these two Ocean County Library locations:

Wednesday Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Long Beach Island branch, 217 S. Central Avenue, Surf City, NJ  08008. Their telephone number is (609) 494-2480. The speakers will be Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove and Vilma Applegate, president of the Barnegat Light Area Branch of the AAUW.

Thursday Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Toms River branch, 101 Washington St., Toms River, NJ  08753. Their telephone number is (732) 349-6200 or (609) 971-0514. Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase will speak at that session.

The program is free but people must register to attend. Register by telephoning the branch or on the library’s Website .

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is January 11, 2014.

SIDEBAR INFORMATION (information provided by the NJ Human Trafficking Task Force information brochure at :

Nearly half (46%) of human trafficking involves prostitution. One-quarter (27%) involves domestic servitude. 10 percent involves agriculture; 5 percent factory work.

It is estimated between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year.

50 percent of people trafficked into the US each year are children.

800,000 people are trafficked worldwide each year.

HELP Interfaith National Homeless Memorial and Rally

More than 75 people attended last night's (Dec. 21st) Interfaith National Homeless Memorial and Rally at Lakewood's Town Square. The night honored the homeless men and women in Ocean County, recognizing the dignity of all people, and remembered those who died this past year because of being homeless

The rally also encouraged those people who advocate for the homeless and provided a network from which people could learn about the resources and strategies available to assist the homeless.

Pastor Michael Mazur (East Dover Baptist Church), Brother Abdul Rashid Rasheem (Islamic Center of Ocean County), and Rabbi Stephen Gold (Congregation Beth Am Shalom) spoke about their faith's position on ministering to the poor and homeless and how their congregations are working to help the poor.

Steve Brigham and Tracie Plungis-Kropinak led the memorial.

Pam Quatse, Rumu Dasgupta and Connie Pascale spoke about the social injustice of homelessness and income disparity and efforts being made to overcome that in Ocean County by advocates for the homeless.

Imam Magsood Qatri closed the event out with a benediction.

Sandwiches for the attendees were prepared by the Jackson Memorial High School Key Club.The coffee was donated by the new WaWa (County Line Road) in Jackson.

A food collection was donated to The Missionary Pentacostal Church food pantry, Fourth St., Lakewood.

Photos from the memorial and rally can be viewed by clicking here.

The Asbury Park Press also posted their photos on their website. To view them click here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Alternative housing: San Francisco

NPR report:

Bay Area's Steep Housing Costs Spark Return To Communal Living

It's no secret in the San Francisco Bay Area, fueled by tight housing stock and the latest tech boom. But some young professionals have turned the situation into an opportunity with a return to communal living, or "co-living," as it's now called.

"It's absolutely a modern commune, but we prefer the term co-living," Derek Dunfield says, as he tours a 7,500-square-foot San Francisco Edwardian mansion he shares with a dozen others. "I think what it really is is an example of what can actually do."

To read or listen to this story click here.

You decide

“You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” ― Winston Churchill.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” ― Aristotle.

Financial assistance for eye care & eye wear may be available to you

If you need financial assistance to obtain eye care or eye wear, you might want to contact one of the following programs. I am told social workers and local community organizations also have information about programs that help people in financial need get the eye care and prescription eye wear they need.

Check it out. It may just help you. To learn more about various programs click here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

11 Facts About Homeless Teens

For the complete story and other links click here.

  1. There are approximately 1.7 million homeless teens in the U.S.
  2. 39 percent of the homeless population is young people under 18.
  3. About 75 percent of homeless teens use drugs or alcohol as a means to self-medicate to deal with the traumatic experiences and abuse they face.
  4. 5,000 young people die every year because of assault, illness, or suicide while on the street.
  5. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study found that 46 percent of homeless youth left their home because of physical abuse. 17 percent left because of sexual abuse.
  6. Approximately 40 percent of homeless teens identify as LGBT.
  7. Over 50 percent of young people in shelters and on the streets report that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving and didn’t care.
  8. The average age a teen becomes homeless is 14.7 years.
  9. 1 in 7 young people between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away.
  10. Teens age 12 to 17 are more likely to become homeless than adults.
  11. HIV rates for homeless young people are 2 to 10 times higher than reported rates for other samples of adolescents in the U.S.

With Deadline Looming, Can COAH Meet Its Supreme Court Mandate?

Housing experts say affordable housing council no closer to fixing Mt. Laurel problems.

With less than three months left for the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to meet a state Supreme Court mandate to determine each New Jersey municipality’s affordable housing obligation, the consensus in the housing community is that there’s no way for the currently inactive agency to meet its deadline.

Speaking Friday at a panel on the most recent of three Mt. Laurel Doctrine Supreme Court rulings, some of the state’s most prominent builders, municipal representatives, and housing attorneys agreed that even if COAH were to meet immediately for the first time since last May, the volunteer board wouldn’t be able to submit and publish its draft regulations with enough time to allow for the required 60-day public comment period.

This leaves the board with two options: petition the Supreme Court for an extension or ignore the court’s mandate.

To read the complete piece click here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

AlJazeera report: Hardworking yet still homeless in today's America

About 3.5 million people experience some kind of homelessness every year, and about a quarter of them are employed at the time, said Jeffrey Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

These figures show that having a job is no insurance against living in a shelter or on the street. And in many U.S. cities, the need for support for homeless people is increasing as their numbers increase.

For the complete story click here.

Homeless Rally & Memorial Service press release

December 10, 2013
What: National Homeless Memorial & Rally Night
When: Saturday Dec. 21st @ 7 p.m.
Where: Lakewood Town Center, Clifton Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets
Contact: Larry Meegan, (732) 740-5878

County residents to remember & support the homeless

LAKEWOOD  - Advocates who support the homeless will gather in Lakewood’s Town Center for an interfaith memorial and rally Saturday Dec. 21st at 7 p.m.

December 21st is the longest night of the year and housing advocates throughout the country recognize it as National Homeless Memorial Night.

The town center is located on Clifton Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets.

Local religious leaders will discuss how their organizations address homelessness and their commitment to social justice issues.

Housing advocates will discuss solutions to homelessness and tell of opportunities that are available to people who are willing to help out.

They will also call to mind those homeless men and women who have died the past couple of years as they battled the elements while living in inadequate shelter.

Everyone is invited to attend the outdoor event. 

The event is sponsored by Homelessness Ended through Local Partners. The Kiwanis Club of Jackson and the Jackson Memorial High School will provide light refreshments.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A reminder!

Homeless Memorial
and Rally

7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

on the longest night of the year

Saturday, Dec. 21st

at Lakewood Town Center
Clifton Avenue
between Third and Fourth Streets

(Parking is available in lots adjacent to the municipal
building, across the street from the police station,
 across from the Strand Theater and in the County
Board of Social Services building lot on Fourth
Street behind the municipal building.)

Speakers will include
local clergy, housing advocates
and our homeless brothers & sisters.

All are welcome.

NPR: Study Shows Rising Rent Straining Family Budgets

Many Americans who live in rental properties can't keep up with the cost of higher and higher rents, according to a new study by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. The report finds that half of U.S. renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. David Greene speaks with Chris Herbert, one of the report's authors, about why there isn't more affordable housing.

Here is the link to the written and audio report:

Support for housing advocates

Dear Sir or Madam;

The plight of the homeless in our State and in fact any State of the Union is deplorable. How can we call ourselves Christians and allow fellow human beings to live in conditions that are worse than the stray animals within our State.

The manner of caring for them now exists of placing the individual in a motel room for a set period of time, usually 3 days to a few weeks or so,usually in one of the roughest dirtiest rooms around, then shuffling them along to the next motel room every so many days and so on, nothing is done to try heal a spirit that has been beaten and shattered from living with nothing, no one seems to look for the cause and then a cure, some of these souls are managing to hold part time jobs, but can't even get part time help. You must see that paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to motels year after dear is simply a gross waste of funds, its like putting a band-aide on a gushing artery, it doesn't do anything without getting to the cause of the problem why bother.

We can build wonderful state of the art animal shelters and beautiful baseball fields but no one, no absolutely not one of our elected officials is willing to raise so much as one hand or lay one brick to shelter a forgotten homeless soul, how can they care so much for mans best friend but not for man himself.

Solutions are available, advocacy groups are available and have long been available with many great ideas they stand at the ready, but assistance is required with funding from our State and assistance of willing hearts and minds from the local officials Ocean County could be a beacon of hope for all other counties in this great State of New Jersey.

Please listen to these advocates, lets start seeing the faces of the homeless as human and make 2014 the year something of true help is done for them. There but for the Grace of God go I, could be one of your own.
Remember the words our Saviour told us that which we do to the least of our brothers we do to him.

Thank you for your time.

Rosemary Goebel
Member of H.E.L.P
Homelessness ended through local Partners
and "The Lodge"

Monday, December 9, 2013

Homeless Interfaith Memorial Night & Rally Dec. 21

Hello all,

We have received permission from Lakewood Township to hold our interfaith Homelessness Memorial Night and Rally Saturday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Lakewood Town Center, Clifton Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets.

We will have local clergy, housing advocates and members of the homeless community speak that evening.

Parking is available in three municipal parking lots (one adjacent to the municipal building, one across the street from the police station, and one across from the Strand Theater.) Parking is also available in the County Board of Social Services building on Fourth Street behind the municipal building.

We expect the memorial and rally will take about an hour.

I have attached a handbill that can be distributed in the days leading up to the event in a week and a half.

We hope you can attend.  We will try to have light refreshments available.

Homelessness Memorial Night
and Rally

7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 21st
the longest night
of the year.

The rally will be held
at the Lakewood Town Center,
Clifton Avenue
between Third and Fourth Streets.

Speakers include
local clergy,
housing advocates
our homeless
brothers & sisters.

Everyone is invited.
Please join us
Saturday evening
in Lakewood.


Children, poverty and homelessness

Here are links to two stories about children, poverty and homelessness here in the US.

There are 22,000 homeless children in New York--the most since the Great Depression. One of their stories:

& among 35 developed countries, US is ranked 34th when it comes to child poverty: @Max_Fisher

Aren't these the same stories told over and over again, and still it seems like nothing gets done?  How long does this story go on till we solve it?  Check back on the blog for links to the 60 Minutes stories on children, poverty and homelessness.

Housing ideas in Monday's news

Austin to Shelter Homeless in a Tiny House Village (via @Shareable) … Calling Lakewood! Hello? Hello Lakewood?

Auburn University Students Build Amazing House for $20K. Could You Live Here? Check It Out! 

NJ Interagency Council on Homelessness - Public Hearing

DCA Commissioner Richard Constable and DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez invite you to a public hearing Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 1 - 4  PM (NJ Forensic Science Technology Center, 1200 Negron Dr, Hamilton, NJ 08691) to offer your thoughts on how the State can best address the needs of homeless New Jerseyans.  

 In April 2012, Governor Chris Christie signed Executive Order 92 creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness. The Council is tasked with developing a long-term plan to prevent homelessness. The Council is particularly interested in hearing your views on two topics: best practices in homeless services delivery and impediments to the delivery of homeless services

Individuals planning to speak will be limited to 3 minutes and will be expected to focus on one or both of those topics. Written remarks may be submitted via email at or via postal service to Homeless Council Public Testimony, NJ Department of Human Services, Office of the Commissioner, PO Box 700, Trenton, NJ 08625-0700. If you are in need of an accommodation, please contact Jennifer Crowley at (609) 292-6090 no later than Wednesday, 12/11/13.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

HELP meeting this Monday @ Toms River library branch

The next combined meeting of Homelessness Ended through Local Partners (H.E.L.P.)  and Clergy and People for Workforce Housing will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 9, 2013 at the Ocean County Library in Toms River.   (The meeting will be in the "Home Town Dairy Room" on the second floor.  The address of the library is 101 Washington Street, Toms River.  It is right across from the Court House.  Parking can be found on the street in front of the building or in the parking garage behind it.)

As always, all who are interested in addressing the critical, related problems of homelessness and affordable housing are welcome to attend.  Please join us, and invite others who share that concern.

Homelessness Ended through Local Partners (H.E.L.P) and Clergy and People for Workforce Housing

Joint Meeting – December 9, 2013
1.            Introductions and information sharing
·         Review of materials
·         Reports/discussion re forum at Georgian Court and event at OC Library in TR  (Pam, Ginger, Rosemary and others)
 2.      Tent City/homelessness/affordable housing report and discussion:
·         current status of Tent City settlement and litigation overall
·         current status of endeavor to produce (a) shelter/”Lodge”/emergency housing center and (b) long-term affordable/supportive housing
·         use of revised power point as a follow-up advocacy tool
·         presence and advocacy at Special Response/Board of Social Services

3.      Other proposed events and actions:
·         Report on effort to have clergy preach sermons on Dec. 21/22 addressing homelessness and calling for action/advocacy (Ginger)
·         Discussion and final preparations and assignments for “candlelight vigil” on 12/21
o   Location, time, parking, microphone, other logistics, etc.
o   Purpose and goal: message, speakers, actions/advocacy efforts to ask people to accomplish, etc. (calls to Freeholders and Mayors, etc. re need for shelter, establishment of Homeless Trust Fund, need for permanent supportive/affordable housing, etc.; distribution/collection of pledge cards re attending meetings, making calls, etc.; other)
o   Getting the work out:  flyers, newspaper articles, other publicity, distribution of same, etc.
o   Materials, handouts, other information distribution
o   Other
·         Appropriate/possible responses to Freeholder comments re Tent City / homelessness at 12/4 public meeting
·         Initial discussion of other possible follow-up events:  attend public meetings of county/local governments; private meetings; call/postcard campaigns;  a facilitated “working” conference emphasizing causes of the problem and, by the end of the event, producing a draft outline of a plan to implement effective solutions; other

4.  Review of ongoing developments regarding the post-Sandy rebuilding effort.
 5.    Other issues and concerns

6.    Set next meeting date and adjourn 

Mandela on social justice and poverty

Mandela: "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice." His major speeches

Friday, December 6, 2013

With apologies to the young people: a call for civility

An Open Letter…

To the Young People of Ocean County:

First off, let me apologize on behalf of the grown-ups in our county.  Some horrible, nasty, angry things were said about homeless people the other night at a county meeting.  Not all of us feel the way some of those who spoke at the meeting do; we do not think that homeless people ‘want to be there’ in Tent City nor would we ever kick out a loved one who was struggling with addiction or a mental health issue and needed a place to stay.  We certainly don’t want our neighbors sleeping in tents out in the cold or in their cars in a parking lot.  Some of us have been homeless at one point in our lives, you may have been too.  We would never, ever force you to live without food or shelter just as you wouldn’t want that to happen to us.  If you have a loved one, maybe an older brother or sister or even your mom or dad who is struggling, maybe lost a job, can’t pay the rent or mortgage, is suffering from an illness, is disabled or older, would you kick that loved one out?  Of course not!  I bet you’d do everything you could to help them.  Well, we grownups in the county certainly haven’t helped those in need the way we should.  We stick our heads in the sand and hope the homeless will just go away.  For that I am so, so sorry.  We promise to do better.  Maybe you can help…. Truth be told, I think we need your help!


Ginger Harris

Homelessness Ended through Local Partners

Thursday, December 5, 2013

APP Editorial: Homelessness a county issue

The Asbury Park Press wrote an editorial Tuesday that reminded its readers of the humanity of the homeless men, women and children.  It also called attention to the failures of Lakewood Township and Ocean County in working to house the homeless.

"While Lakewood bears some responsibility for the safety and long-term disposition of the residents there, no one should expect a municipality to take on the whole problem by itself. Ocean County should be providing the leadership and the lion’s share of funding for either building a county homeless shelter or providing alternative housing for Tent City’s residents.

"On the other hand, for nearly five years Lakewood has consistently made life hard for the people who live there, spending taxpayer money on fighting court battles to evict them instead of working to find them alternative housing."

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Two Ocean County Freeholders took exception to the editorial at Wednesday's Freeholder meeting in Toms River.

According to the Asbury Park Press, "Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. said he is furious with the Asbury Park Press and expressed outrage with a front page story published Tuesday that questioned whether the county has done enough to help its homeless population, which included the headline: “Is it time for Ocean County to build a homeless shelter?”

“I am rather tired of hearing that Ocean County is doing nothing to aid people who are homeless in this county, that is an unmitigated untruth,” Bartlett said during a regular public meeting of the freeholders.

“And the fact of the matter is, in reference to ‘Tent City’ in Lakewood, there are many people there who want to be there,” Bartlett said. “Tent City is an outgrowth of the fact that Lakewood Township allowed it to be built and maintained, provided services to it and therefore in a sense became owners of it.”

Freeholder Director Jack Kelly said there is a difference here in philosophies. He said people needed to be more self-reliant and work with social services to do more to help themselves.

“What Freeholder Bartlett is talking about, at Tent City, when he says they would rather be there, they would rather be there than deal with government,” Kelly said. “Because government comes with it the obligation and responsibility of the individual.”

The complete article can be read by clicking here.

Lakewood Deputy Mayor Steven Langert and Committeeman Ray Coles appeared at WOBM's station Tuesday to add to the discussion.

According to WOBM, "The duo didn’t shy away from talking about their continuing efforts to close down Tent City and find housing for its residents. They also addressed its high density growth plans."

"Committeeman Ray Coles said local anti-poverty group STEPS (Solutions To End Poverty Soon) is working on finding housing. He explained they’re trying to put together leases for a half dozen apartments in Lakewood and surrounding communities. “We’re looking to see what we can do as far as finding an affordable place with decent access to transportation and also to make sure that the support services that are going to be critical to insure that these people survive and thrive in these locations,” he said."

"However, they agree there’s little they can do for an estimated 60 Tent City residents who refuse help. “Because they’re not in their right minds,” according to Coles. “I hate to put it like that but there are people out there who don’t know how to take care of themselves and unfortunately in this country we can’t force them to accept help,” he said."

The complete story can be read at WOBM by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Obama calls income inequality 'defining challenge of our time'

Al Jazeera reports: President says rising disparity between wealthy and poor should 'compel' Americans to action

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he believes America’s "dangerous and growing" income inequality represents the "defining challenge of our time," indicating that he intends to put social mobility at the center of his remaining second-term agenda.

The remarks by the president, who said the issue of inequality "drives everything I do in this office," came during an impassioned speech at an event organized by the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based liberal think tank with close ties to the White House.

To read the entire report click here.

NPR report:Loophole Or Workaround? (Food Stamp Edition)

NPR reports: In the debate over whether to cut the food stamp program, members of Congress are looking at two pretty arcane provisions in the law. People who want to cut food stamps call the provisions loopholes. People who don't want to cut food stamps say they're efficient ways to get benefits to those who need them most.

For the audio link or to read the whole story, go click here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Loyola Chicago helps homeless with ACA

Loyola medical students were featured on for their work w/the homeless  .

The PADS goal is always to help men, women and children get back into stable housing.  You can reach them by clicking these links.
Read more:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

NYT: Pastor schooled by the homeless

NYT article about Deb Richardson-Moore - My Story: A Second Career as a Pastor, Schooled by the Homeless

Deb Richardson-Moore is the author of “The Weight of Mercy,” a 2012 memoir about her first few years as a pastor. It is published by Lion Hudson in Oxford, England, and distributed in the United States by Kregel Publications.

Friday, November 29, 2013

APP: Jersey Shore food pantries in desperate need of donations

The Asbury Park Press has a story about the food needs of Jersey Shore Dream Center. It is a common story repeated many times by local food pantries. Can you help?

The story and photos can be seen on the APP site.

APP reports Tent City resident died overnight

The Asbury Park Press reported that Mario Guerra from Honduras died overnight in Tent City. Video and story at here.

"God shed his grace on thee"

Homelessness is a social justice issue, rooted in poverty and unequal access to resources.
When we sing about America and "God shed his grace on thee," do we think these blessings were given to us so we could horde them? My Christian tradition has taught me that we are to help those who are less fortunate that us. I also know this is not unique to Christians. There is a long history of Jewish traditions of people helping the poor. I have also witnessed Islam teaching the same thing. There is an obligation to reach out.
Pope Francis message has consistently been to help the poor: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless. Most recently he has called attention to the evils our economic
I guess some political commentators take exception to this and try to discredit the gospel message, the Jewish tradition, the teachings of Islam.
James Martin, SJ has addressed the issue: Rush Limbaugh slams the Pope's critique of capitalism as "pure Marxism." Go, and learn the meaning of Catholic Social Teaching.
As for me, I just wonder why it is that those who know the least, seem to know it the loudest?
As we give thanks, let's give thanks that we are blessed so we can help the less fortunate. And for the opportunity to exercise our faith in the power of God.

Prayer of thanks

"If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is Thank you, that would be enough." --Meister Eckhart. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ocean County Library Lakewood branch to offer US citizenship prep classes

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County Library’s Lakewood branch, 301 Lexington Ave., will host a seven-session class to prepare people who want to take the test for US citizenship.

The class is appropriate for adults 18 years and older who have lawful and continuous permanent residency in the United States for a minimum of five years.  Those attending should have been physically present in the United States for thirty months, with at least three months living in the same state or district. 

Anyone with questions about whether their individual circumstances would qualify should call Richard Potter at the library (732) 363-1435 ext. 2117.

The class will instruct the students on all topics covered by the test for US citizenship, including civics and American history, and offer practice exercises on English reading and written vocabulary. 

The test itself will not be administered as part of the class.  The test for US citizenship is only administered by US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The class will be held on Mondays: January 6, 13, 20, 27 & February 3, 10, 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the branch. It is free of charge.

Registration is required because of the limited class size.  Registration begins December 3.

For more information or to register, please contact Richard Potter, Senior Librarian, at (732) 363-1435 or

Monday, November 25, 2013

HELP meeting Dec. 9 at Toms River library

The next meeting of HELP, Homelessness Ended through Local Partners, will be held 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 at Ocean County Library's Toms River branch, 101 Washington Street. All are welcome to attend.

The meeting's agenda will be posted soon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New from Jeff Wild, NJ Coalition to End Homelessness

Attorney Jeff Wild, defender of people living in Tent City and a trustee for the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness wrote the following:

On Wednesday night, with the bitter cold approaching, the City of Lakewood sent its police into Tent City and ordered the more than 80 homeless men and women shivering in the woods to shut down the wood-burning stoves they need to survive.  At least three residents were charged under Lakewood's latest municipal ordinance for the "crime" of being homeless and trying to survive.  Those charged included Monique G., who is six-months pregnant; her boyfried William B.; and even a senior citizen, 72-year-old Phyllis H.

However, with your support, we obtained an emergency Temporary Restraining Order on Friday afternoon prohibiting any effort by Lakewood to enforce the ordinance against the lawfully protected residents of Tent City until at least the next court hearing on December 6th.  Here are links to the TV story from NBC News and the newspaper story from the Asbury Park Press:!/on-air/as-seen-on/Tent-City-Eviction-in-New-Jersey/233147191

Just during our first year of work, the Coalition provided $108,370 in grants for Rapid Rehousing (securing immediate permanent housing for the homeless), $70,000 for Homeless Prevention (help with rent or utility arrears to prevent homelessness), $28,803 for Emergency Housing (for the most desperate individuals and families), and $200,000 for those homeless due to Hurricane Sandy. We are also becoming NJ’s leading voice in Trenton and elsewhere for the homeless and law reform to end homelessness.
Please join us now.

If you are homeless, there is no charge for you to click below and become a member of the Coalition. If you are lucky enough to have a home, please consider clicking on the link below and supporting the Coalition with a $50 annual membership.  Any business can support the homeless by becoming a member for $500 and any nonprofit can support the homeless with a $250 membership. Of course, all contributions are tax-deductible -- and every membership makes us stronger when we are there for NJ’s homeless:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

APP: Wood burning allowed at Tent City

LAKEWOOD — A Superior Court judge on Friday ordered township officials to stop enforcing an ordinance that bans burning wood outdoors, the only source of heat for the residents of the homeless camp known as Tent City.
Prohibiting Tent City campers from burning wood could cause “substantial irreparable harm to the residents who may not have any available source of heat,” Superior Court Judge Joseph L. Foster said during a court hearing Friday in Toms River, particularly given that temperatures are expected to drop below freezing this weekend.
For the complete story click here.

Gooding: Superstorm Continues to Displace Thousands From Ocean County

Last week O.C.E.A.N. Inc. President and CEO Ted Gooding said Superstorm Sandy displaced 55,000 Ocean County residents and that anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 have still not gotten back into their house.

"We know that we had families displaced as far south as Miami, as far west as Cleveland Ohio, as far north as Rhode Island and every town between here and Florida just about we see families from Ocean County," he said.

To read the complete story click here.

Mount Holly settles high-profile housing bias lawsuit

The Associated Press reported Mount Holly officials approved a settlement last week to end a high-profile housing discrimination case, just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court was to hear arguments on it.

The litigation goes back to 2002, when the township supported a redevelopment plan to buy and then raze the modest brick homes in the blighted neighborhood and replace them with new homes, apartments and stores. Residents sued, saying they would not be able to afford to live in the new development.

The case received national attention and was one of the most anticipated on the Supreme Court's docket because it involved the theory of racial disparate impacts. Some residents asserted that the redevelopment was discriminatory because three-fourths of the Mount Holly Gardens residents were minorities.

Read the full story here.

How Food Stamp Cuts Are Hitting Across The U.S.

Stateline, the Daily News Service of the Pew Charitable Trust reports 364,000 NJ children and 195,000 elderly with disabilities will see their benefits cut. Total SNAP cuts in NJ: $90 million.

To view an interactive map with stats from each state, including NJ click here.

Colorado homeless moved to the country for rehab

AlJazeera America reports: Some fear retired Army fort in Great Plains is too isolated, while others see great potential for new state program

FORT LYON, Colo. — Darrell Valdez, Cindy Davis, John Ferentchak and Devonie Williams know what it’s like to live on the streets, to be addicted to alcohol and drugs, to struggle with hopelessness.

Now they’re living far from the city, with about 60 other homeless Coloradans on a sprawling campus of historic buildings near the Arkansas River. In previous incarnations, Fort Lyon was an Army fort, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a veterans’ hospital and a minimum-security prison.

In this latest chapter, these residents — along with state lawmakers, homeless advocates and Bent County officials — hope to put their lives on a different path.

For the complete story click here.

Frontline: Map: Where is Childhood Homelessness Getting Worse?

From Frontline:

The number of homeless students in the United States reached a record high last year, according to new data from the Education Department showing that 1.2 million children had no place to call home.

Click here.

ProPublica: A Year Later, Feds Inch Forward on Fair Housing

Last night's episode of “This American Life”  featured a story based on ProPublica’s yearlong investigation “Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law.”

Called “House Rules,” the TAL segment examined the ways zip codes  determine the destiny of many Americans. The show featured some of the actors who go undercover to test the market for hidden housing discrimination, a highly effective tool seldom used by the government.

For links to the reports and video click here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity to build new affordable house

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity is getting ready to build their 15th affordable house, therefore they are having their 3 Family Selection Orientations for selection of a new partner family.  The applicants MUST attend one orientation to obtain the application for submission.

The next two orientations are:
Sunday May 19th 2 pm @ the Lakewood Library 301 Lexington Avenue
Monday May 20th 7 pm @ the Toms River Library 101 Washington Street
Contact Norther Ocean Habitat for Humanity for more information:

Editorial: On TASK for 30 years - Trenton Area Soup Kitchen provides hope for homeless

From the Times of Trenton:

For more than 30 years, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen has offered sustenance with a side of hope to the homeless, the working poor and all those temporarily down on their luck. Twice a day, TASK offers meals to anyone who is hungry, no questions asked.

To read more click here.

Southern Service Center Home to Nutrition Site

A press release from the Ocean County Freeholders:


STAFFORD TOWNSHIP – Simply put, nutrition support is a key ingredient to good health for older adults.

And, with that in mind, the first attendees to enjoy a meal while socializing with old friends and making new ones made their way into Ocean County's new senior nutrition site at the Ocean County Southern Service Center, here.

"The opening of this nutrition site has been in the works for quite a while," said Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services. "And while a superstorm may have delayed our efforts, it didn't stop us and here we are today."

Freeholder Vicari joined with Community Services Inc. representatives, local officials and seniors in cutting the ceremonial red ribbon marking the grand opening of the new site. The site opened on the first day, May 1, of Older Americans Month.

"A survey of current congregate nutrition site participants shows that 73 percent are at moderate to high nutritional risk and 93 percent of home delivered meal clients are at moderate to high nutritional risk," Vicari said. "In Ocean County we want to decrease those percentages and insure our seniors are getting a healthy meal.

"In the first three months of this year, 40,980 home delivered meals have been distributed to seniors while 11,172 meals were served at our nutrition sites," he said.

Seniors in the county's congregate nutrition program from Lacey Township south to Little Egg Harbor will be accessing the new nutrition site

"This site is a great location with plenty of on-site parking," Vicari said. "Having easy access to this program is very important for the well-being of our older citizens."

He noted that transportation for some seniors may be available through Community Services Inc., Long Beach Island Senior Services and Stafford Dial-A-Ride.

Ocean County completed the renovation of the kitchen at the Southern Service Center just weeks before the grand opening, providing a new location for the preparation of home delivered meals to the southern part of the County.

"There are about 300 meals now prepared daily at this site and in the months ahead we expect that number to double," Vicari said.

When the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders officially opened the doors of the Ocean County Southern Service Center in 2011, the plan was to use the building to help southern Ocean County residents access county services.

"Making county services accessible is a priority for this Board," said Freeholder Director John P. Kelly. "This was yet another step we took to meet that goal."

Little did the Board know that the center would become a focal point in the county's efforts to assist residents in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy prior to being able to open the nutrition site.

"During the days after the storm, the National Guard was housed at the facility. In addition, because St. Francis Center on Long Beach Island was heavily damaged by the storm, the center relocated its food pantry, some counseling services and the home delivered meal program to the Southern Service Center. The building also played an integral role in the November 2012 Presidential Election and has been home to the Federal Emergency Management Administration which used part of the facility as a regional Disaster Recovery Center," said Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. "All the while we are continuing to offer county services from this site."

Ocean County opened the Ocean County Southern Service Center, located at the corner of Routes 9 and 72 in Manahawkin, in May 2011.

"Originally, the facility was opened to provide residents of the southern portion of the county with the opportunity to access some local senior services programs, the services of the Ocean County Clerk and the Ocean County Surrogate," Kelly said. "Those services quickly expanded to include Veterans Services.

"The site continues to house those county services and now we welcome this nutrition site," Kelly said.

Ocean County had purchased the Route 9 facility, which had been the former St. Mary Parish Center, with an eye toward using the property for a new Stafford Township branch of the Ocean County Library.

However, the downturn in the economy resulted in those plans being delayed for the time being.

The Southern Service Center also houses some senior social/support services such as a satellite location for the Long Beach Island Senior Services and Outreach, which provides information and assistance with an array of benefits and entitlements for older adults. Additionally Visiting Home Care offers Adult Social Day Care: "A Friend's House."

"We are very pleased with the work that goes on at this facility," Vicari said. "From our seniors to our veterans to our citizens that need help with Surrogate Services or the services of the County Clerk, this facility allows easy accessibility to programs and services in a growing area."

Vicari noted that socialization, recreation, educational programs and health screenings will be offered at the nutrition site.

"We want to make sure we are meeting the needs of our seniors," Vicari said. "I believe we truly are."

Ocean County Participates in CDBG Program Since 1984

Press release from the Ocean County Freeholders


TOMS RIVER – Ocean County expects to distribute about $940,000 in federal funds to municipalities and public agencies for housing rehabilitation and municipal and public service projects.

"Ocean County has been participating in the federal Community Development Block Grant Program since 1984," said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Planning Department, which administers the program. "Many great projects have resulted from the distribution of these funds."

Ocean County anticipates allocating $352,000 for 11 municipal projects such as handicap accessibility, street, sidewalk and curb improvements. In addition, about $180,000 will be allocated for 12 public service activities such as food distribution, counseling and day care centers, domestic violence and youth runaway centers, homeless assistance, visiting homecare services and senior services, while $226,000 will be appropriated for housing related programs.

"Because of anticipated federal funding cuts and changes in the census, we are anticipating that the 2013 appropriation will be about 10 percent less than 2012," Little said. "We are still waiting on the final numbers."

Little said the county anticipates $826,000 for HOME funding for fiscal year 2013.

"This money helps our residents with their housing needs," Little said. "The funds are used to repair existing homes or help families take the necessary steps into their first home."

For instance, Little said that under the First Time Homebuyers program 440 families have received down payment assistance for purchase of a home under the program for a total real estate value in Ocean County of $58 million.

Approximately 22 individuals/families will receive assistance with FY 2013 funding.

In addition, a total of 656 housing units have been rehabilitated under the CDBG Housing Rehabilitation Program since 1984. Approximately 22 units will be rehabilitated during FY 2013.

Little said the county also anticipates using about $665,000 for the Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program which includes funds from 2013 and 2012.

"Additional funding was recommended to accommodate the increased rental demand as a result of Superstorm Sandy," Little said. "Waivers were requested and approved by HUD."

He said 653 families have been provided rent subsidies under the Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program to date.
The average rental subsidy provided in 2012 was $923 per month for a 24 month period.

"We anticipate assisting 65 families this year under this program," he said.

In addition, $200,000 will be provided for Superstorm Sandy Relief and Recovery. The money will be allocated to OCEAN, Inc.'s Community Partners Outreach and Relief Program for eligible residents of Ocean County affected by Superstorm Sandy.

"This money will be used for rental assistance, security deposits, relocation assistance, home repairs not covered by insurance and/or FEMA, plumbing and gas line penetration, replacement of insulation and other weatherization replacements, counseling, and food assistance," Little said. "With so many of our residents directly impacted by this storm, it is important to help our residents get back to their homes."

Municipalities that receive separate CDBG entitlements and the amounts that are anticipated are: Brick Township, $247,351, Toms River Township, $332,090, Lakewood Township, $785,743 and Jackson Township, $174,674. However, Jackson Township's funds will be included in the total County allocation since the County administers their program.

"Over the years, 549 municipal projects were completed under the CDBG program, 165 of which were public service projects," Little said.

Little noted that while some of the CDBG money is being used for Superstorm Sandy relief, this allocation is separate from the $1.8 billion that will be distributed by the state that will help in the recovery of the storm.

Freeholder Director John P. Kelly said the CDBG Steering Committee works diligently every year in reviewing funding requests.

"I want to thank the committees' chairwoman Patricia Moran and all the members who work so hard to make certain this funding continues to come to Ocean County and provides the money for many important projects," Kelly said.