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.