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.