Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Tuesday, March 25, 1-4 p.m.
NJ State Museum Auditorium
205 West State Street, Trenton, NJ

The New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness urges advocates, service providers, and individuals affected by homelessness to testify at this important public hearing. In order for changes to occur in our state, the members of the Interagency Council need to hear about the real barriers faced by homeless individuals and those who provide services. Testimony is limited to three-minute statements with no questions. The Council is particularly interested in hearing views on two topics:
• Best practices in homeless services delivery and
• Impediments to the delivery of homeless services.

The hearing is held by Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard Constable and Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez. Several members of the NJCEH are members of the Council including Board President Alison Recca-Ryan, Trustee Connie Mercer, Advisory Board Member Kent Pipes, and former Trustee Julia Orlando.

Written remarks may be submitted via email at or by mail to Homeless Council Public Testimony, NJ Department of Human Services, Office of the Commissioner, PO Box 700, Trenton, NJ 08625-0700.

Some excellent sample talking points for the hearing are listed at the website of Monarch Housing Associates,

The Interagency Council on Homelessness was created by Governor Christie in April 2012 and is charged with better identifying and addressing the needs of homeless individuals in New Jersey and preparing a 10-year plan to end homelessness in New Jersey.


Deb Ellis

How to help the relocated from Tent City

Homelessness Ended through Local Partners

A Network of Ocean County Housing Advocates

Support Services for the Newly Housed

If you have recently left Tent City and moved into an apartment or motel, or will be leaving Tent City in the near future and need some help, please let us know.

Some of the things we can help you with for free are:

·       transportation for food shopping
·       transportation to job interviews, doctors/clinic appointments
·       transportation to Social Services, Social Security, and unemployment offices
·       help with filing for possible benefits from Social Services, Social Security, and unemployment
·       help with financial matters -- budgeting, checking accounts, paying bills, etc.
·       help with researching bus routes and providing bus schedules
·       provide list of food pantries and soup kitchens
·       furniture
·       encouragement to attend AA and NA meetings

If you need help with any of the above, or have other needs,  please call:

Stan Rosenthal                                            Paul Hulse
908-902-0769 (Call or text)                        386-315-0168 (call or text)


Monday, March 17, 2014

NJ Supreme Court gives COAH more time to propose rules, again

NJ Supreme Court issues order that vacates COAH appellate ruling, gives state until November to adopt new rules

Be sure to read Justice Albin's dissent beginning on page 5.

My Din died in Tent City fire

Lakewood's Tent City resident killed in fire remembered as 'very friendly' culinary expert

Saturday, March 1, 2014

NJ Coalition to End Homelessness: Good news - the tents are coming down

Tents are coming down in the Lakewood Tent City -- and in a good way! As per the court orders with Lakewood obtained with the Coalition's support, all of the homeless residents who participated in the court-ordered census last April are now in the process of moving out of the cold woods and into apartments.  So far, more than 30 men and women who had to fight to survive in the woods are now warm indoors.  Their tents are only coming down when they are no longer needed.  The Coalition congratulates board member Jeff Wild for his dedicated efforts in securing this victory.

Here is a link to one of the many heartwarming stories of those who finally have a home of their own:

Kevin's Story

There is, however, much more work to be done. Even though Lakewood is now abiding by the law – providing housing for these unsheltered homeless - Ocean County is not. Ocean County must provide a safety net – an emergency housing center – for all the other homeless throughout Ocean County.  At the so-called “Special Response” Office of the Board of Social Services in Toms River, homeless men, women and children are still being turned away on a daily basis as “ineligible” for emergency shelter.   The Coalition has made addressing this unconscionable situation one of its top priorities for this year.  Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution towards the Coalition's remaining work using the link below.

Support the Coalition


Deb Ellis

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This is the new date of the hearing that was postponed by weather last fall.

Monarch Housing Associates header image

Hearing Scheduled for March 25th Advocates Share Talking Points

Advocates for efforts to End Homelessness in New Jersey have prepared sample talking points with strategies that should be considered in the statewide plan to end homelessness.

The talking points are offered to all who plan to testify at the Interagency Council on the Homeless hearing that will be held on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at from 1 – 4 PM at the NJ State Museum Auditorium. Additional information regarding the public hearing will be sent out in the beginning of March.

The strategies include:
1. Adopt Housing First as a State Policy
2. Create a Rapid Re-Housing rate for boards of social services
3. Support Local Efforts to Create Centralized and/or Coordinated Assessment Systems
4. Set a priority for homelessness with the State Public Housing Agency (PHA) and encourage the same from local PHAs
5. Assist local Continuums of Care (CoC) in retooling transitional housing

The talking points also make recommendations that would address impediments to the delivery of services
 Ensure that all agencies receiving state contracts for service funding are required to serve the most difficult to house homeless and focus their resources on solutions that work, while encouraging well-designed innovations for continuous improvement Encourage all state agencies that receive funding to assist the homeless, including DHS and DCA, to coordinate funding for housing and homeless services.
 Require participation of local Boards of Social Services in Continuum of Care (CoC) homeless planning activities Coordinate with local CoCs and ensure that all grants for state funding for homeless activities require local CoC approval

Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard Constable and Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez will hold an Interagency Council on Homelessness public hearing on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 to hear from the public about how the State can best address the needs of homeless New Jerseyans.

The public hearing will be held from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the at the NJ State Museum Auditorium at 205 West State Street, Trenton.

The Council is particularly interested in hearing 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 mail 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 the NJ Department of Human Services at (609) 292-6090 no later than Wednesday, December 11, 2013.

Please note that the public hearing is an opportunity to provide your comments, only. It is not interactive.

NYT: "I'm homeless, not stupid"

Needing help is not the same as being helpless.
"I'm homeless, not stupid," says a resident of a Quixotic Village, a self-governing micro-housing settlement in Washington state.
Twenty-four men and women were moved into their own tiny apartments Christmas Eve, much like the houses advocated for by Ocean County's Destiny's Bridge the past three years.
The houses are small: 8 by 18 feet, 144 square feet. But providing a transitional house is the second step in moving people from homelessness to living in permanent housing.
"It's about providing homes for people who were in tents a month ago," said Garner Miller, an architect who helped create the new village's layout and living model.
Read the complete story in this New York Times article.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014



February 13, 2014

Chris Donnelly

(609) 847-3700

Residents Who Have Failed To Get Sandy Aid Answers Or Assistance Encouraged To Attend

TRENTON – In an effort to bring the thousands of victims of Superstorm Sandy the answers, assistance and results they deserve, Senate President Steve Sweeney will be conducting a "Sandy Bill of Rights" tour, with stops in Perth Amboy, Toms River and Moonachie.  Information regarding these stops is below.  Residents who believe they have wrongly been denied Sandy aid and/or have failed to get answers from the administration as to why they were denied are encouraged to attend and share their stories with the media and Senate President Sweeney.
Friday, February 21
11:00 a.m.
Toms River Elks Lodge #1875; 600 Washington Street in Toms River
A town hall style meeting where residents will be able to share their stories on the difficulties of getting Sandy aid.
Two weeks ago, Senate President Sweeney introduced legislation that would establish a “Sandy Bill of Rights.” The bill of rights would do several things, including requiring a plain language explanation of what is needed to be eligible and to apply for Sandy recovery programs; the right to know where your relief application stands and what additional information is needed; the right to know why your application was rejected or why you were placed on a waiting list and the right to appeal a denial of funding. 

Decriminalizing homelessness

Here is a roundup article about the foul attempts by some politicians to outlaw homelessness and the push-back by people who know better, including Utah which is on the road to ending homelessness.

Click here. to read the story.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

America magazine speaks out on the homeless

America magazine, The National Catholic Weekly published by the Jesuits, posted an editorial (Dec. 23, 2013) and follow up comment (Feb. 24, 2014) that I have to bring to your attention.

The editorial (to read, click here) begins with:

Wend your way through the streets of any large city, teeming with Christmas shoppers, where store windows glisten with expensive watches and handbags, and it is all too easy to avert your eyes from those dehumanized shapes in doorways or sprawled on the steps or stretched out in the pews of open churches. Swathed in blankets, they peer out with blank eyes from between scarves and wool hats as they display their cardboard manifestos: House burned down. Wounded Vet. Hungry. Pregnant. Jobless. Help. The message is sobering: We are helpless, abandoned and dependent on your seasonal generosity...

Their follow up can be read here. It is the third article in "Current Comment."

Some major cities have responded by arresting the victims or requiring religious groups to pay for a permit in order to feed the homeless in public parks. Utah, in contrast, under Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman, started a program in 2005 called Housing First that identified the chronically homeless and designed strategies to supply permanent or transitional housing to meet their needs. The state calculated that the costs of emergency services and incarceration amount to $16,670 each year for a chronically homeless person but found that it could supply each person with an apartment and case management services for $11,000.

As a result of the program, the number of chronically homeless people in Utah has dropped from 1,900 in 2005 to fewer than 500 today. How did this happen? 

Assisting the poor and homeless has gotten a new advocate with the election of Pope Francis, but it is not only a Catholic concern. Providing aid to the poor is a basic tenet of Islam, and some of the homeless most active supporters are from the Jewish community. They and non-religious people alike who see poverty and homelessness as social justice issues  have contributed so much time and effort to eliminate this indictment of our society.

There are opportunities for you to help: local government agencies, community service groups, religious organizations, and support organizations.  Need to find one? Know of one that is looking for volunteers? Let me know.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CASA volunteers of Mercer County find stabilizing a child's life very rewarding

MERCER—Thinking of all the children not able to sleep in their own beds used to keep Lori Morris from falling asleep in hers, so she joined an organization meant to fill in the cracks of the foster system to prevent more children from falling into them.

She’s not alone. While they represent a variety of occupations, ages, races and backgrounds, the volunteers of Mercer County Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) program have a singular goal in mind: to help the helpless.

To read more click here.

Poor and innocent

"We have a system of justice that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent."

Where is the mayor?

Portland residents carry pitchforks & torches to demand the city stop arresting the homeless:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

60 Minutes reports on housing 100,000; it's results in Nashville

60 Minutes had a program this evening, Sunday Feb. 9 about the 100,000 homes for homeless program. So far it has provided homes for 80,000.and saves taxpayers money.

To view the episode click here.

Florida Ordinance Makes It Illegal For Homeless To Use Blankets Read more at TLR: Florida Ordinance Makes It Illegal For Homeless To Use Blankets | The Libertarian Republic Follow us: @LibRepublic on Twitter | LibertarianRepublic on Facebook

Is it illegal to be homeless in Pensacola?

Yes, despite the sunny ads that gloat about warm Florida weather, it does on occasion get cold down there. Sometimes it even goes below freezing and the homeless not only have no place to lay their head but in Pensacola they aren't even allowed to cover themselves with blankets (or newspapers) to fend off the cold.

Check it out and click here.

I checked the Internet for more information about this situation. You might be interested in learning more by checking and Sean’s Outpost Announces Satoshi Forest, Nine-Acre Sanctuary for the Homeless 

Any updates?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Patch reports Toms River will build a 72-unit affordable housing complex for disabled, "very low income" families

Patch reports: Officials announced this week that federal funding would be allotted toward a 72-unit affordable housing complex that is being planned for a plot of land off Massachusetts Avenue.

Freedom Village at Toms River has been approved by the township's planning board and will be built on 10 acres of land at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and West Hickory Street, township officials confirmed to Patch.

For more information click here.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Free 6-week online class based on the Social Good Summit.

"How to Change the World"
From the bulletin: How can we use the things we share in common to address some of the most challenging problems facing the world?  This course examines issues concerning poverty, the environment, technology, health care, gender, education and activism to help us to understand better how to initiate positive change.

Week 1: What are social goods? From the Commons to Moral Revolutions.
Week 2: Poverty, Prosperity and Aid
Week 3: Climate Change and Sustainability
Week 4: Disease and Global Health Care
Week 5: Women, Education and Social Change
Week 6: Education, Social Networks and Activism

Readings will be presented as PDFs or as links to other sites.

Instructor is Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University.

Classes are free and begin Monday Jan. 20.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) based on 2013 Summit launches Jan 20 -- sign up here:

If we have enough people sign up perhaps we can have a discussion group meeting to discuss the class issues.


Care for the Poor, Quite A Challenge


James Martin, S.J.’s offered up a concise summary of Pope Francis’ message since taking on leadership of the Catholic Church in March on the Colbert Report last night: “Christ invites you into simple living and to help the poor as an invitation to be part of the reign of God.”  Fr. Martin later noted, “If you have a problem with Pope Francis.  You have a problem with Jesus.”

In recent weeks Pope Francis’ comments on the global economy have received critique in the media from a small number of wealthy Catholics who have expressed concern that his message is disconcerting to some people.  In his tongue-in-cheek manner, Colbert questioned Martin on this asking, “Why is he gunning for the big money people?”  Martin’s response: “Jesus tells us to care for the poor…The Pope said I care for the poor and the rich alike.  But he has a responsibility to tell everyone that the rich need to care and respect the poor.”
To read the remainder of this blog click here. It includes a link to Fr. James Martin's SJ appearance on the Colbert Report earlier this week and his discussion about people's response to poverty and the poor. 

Homeless: Vulnerable Amid the Polar Vortext

Ignatian Solidarity Network
In light of the recent polar vortex, we are called to think about homeless outreach throughout the country. This past week, many homes lost power, forcing people to take shelter in schools, churches or community centers. For one or two nights, a mass amount of people experienced a sliver of what it is like to live in a shelter. Though this is nothing compared to what the chronically homeless face, it is important to realize homelessness happens everywhere and no one is immune. Any person could become homeless at any moment, whether from job loss, natural disaster or economic stress. In recognizing this, we can realize the solidarity that innately exists between people who are homeless and those that are not, we are all one people susceptible to tough times.

For many Jesuit institutions across the country, their relationships with those who are homeless have developed through projects or ministries named after St. Joseph Benedict Labre.  Labre, the patron saint of the homeless, provides us a context to see the presence of God in our homeless brothers and sisters.  Finding God happens when you look into a person’s eyes, you see their soul, moving you to compassionately love. For Christians, this is the experience of Eucharist.
To read the rest of this blog click here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This week's abnormal cold and the Ocean County homeless

Low temperatures and wind that made it seem like -40 degrees F provided life-threatening conditions to local homeless men and women.

WOBM did a story about Lakewood's efforts to provide emergency shelter. That story can be found here

WOBM did a followup article, "The Homeless and the Cold: a Dangerous Combination" by Jason Allentof. To read that report click here. 

From United Way of Ocean County: 
When temperatures drop below freezing, and conditions pose a threat to individuals who are homeless or medically fragile, a network of agencies throughout New Jersey helps people obtain shelter, food and clothing. Warming Centers are also opened during stated hours to provide residents with a place that they
can go to warm up. Here is the list:  
Nice theory. Unfortunately, Ocean County only has two and they are both in Little Egg Harbor.

OC Dept. of Human Services: Project Homeless Connect 2014 & Point in Time Count

Ocean County Department of Human Services
Project Homeless Connect 2014
and Point-in-Time Count  
CoC/ CEAS Meeting 
Monday, January 13
at 9am 
at the Ocean County Dept of Human Services 

Point-in-Time Count Interview Training
Monday, January 13 
at 11am 
at the Ocean County Dept of Human Services
PHC Giveaway Bag Preparation
Monday, January 27
at 11am 
at the Ocean County Dept of Human Services

Project Homeless Connect 
Wednesday, January 29
Various Sites - see flyer 
Dear Community Partners, 

On January 29, 2014, Ocean County will participate in the annual statewide Project: Homeless Connect and Point In Time Count in an effort to determine the number of people who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness in our community and engage those individuals in appropriate services. The Count is a vital component of the ongoing process to assess and address Ocean County's need for services for this vulnerable population. The Count also contributes valuable information towards implementing and evaluating strategies to prevent homelessness.

As a leader in the human services community, we ask for your assistance.  

~ Please help us reach individuals who may be homeless or at risk by sharing the Project: Homeless Connect sites throughout Ocean County. Please post and share this flyer with your clients, staff, constituents, patrons, and contacts. Additional copies are available upon request. 

~ If you are familiar with particular individuals or frequented areas, please contact my office with that information so that we can coordinate outreach and engagement.

~ Please send in information, flyers, and brochures about pertinent services provided by your organization so that it can be shared with survey participants.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and for your service to Ocean County.

Jamie Busch
Coordinator, Human Services Advisory Council 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

NJ Coalition to End Homelessness welcomes new director

The Coalition is pleased to announce the appointment of Deb Ellis as Executive Director. Created in 2012, the statewide Coalition works to eradicate homelessness through public policy advocacy, education, and organizing. 

“The appointment of Deb Ellis is a critical part of our initiatives to end homelessness in New Jersey,” said Alison Recca-Ryan, the Coalition’s President. “Deb’s passion, extensive advocacy experience, and energetic dedication will enable the Coalition to be a leading voice for the homeless of New Jersey and ensure that homeless individuals are treated with dignity and respect.”

Deb has had a long career as a social justice advocate, both in New Jersey, where she was the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, and on the national level. Deb’s work on behalf of the homeless began in the late 1980’s as an overnight volunteer at the Riverside Church’s shelter in NYC. Since moving to New Jersey, she has volunteered for both the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County and Toni’s Kitchen in her hometown of Montclair.

Most recently, Deb was Assistant Dean for Public Service at NYU School of Law, where she launched a new generation of lawyers into public interest law while creating innovative programs to strengthen NYU’s institutional commitment to public service. Deb’s work at NYU was recognized by a White House Champion of Change Award, the National Association for Law Placement’s Leadership and Public Service award, and the NYU Law Alumni Association Public Servic Award.

“I am grateful to have this opportunity to serve,” Ellis said. “It is a travesty that in New Jersey, with some of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., we have thousands of homeless individuals and families. It is hard to believe that some New Jersey citizens even live in tent cities, just like the Hoovervilles of the Depression era. I am looking forward to working with partner organizations in New Jersey to find innovative solutions.” 

In addition to serving as Legal Director of the ACLU of New Jersey and of NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Deb was a staff attorney at the national ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center and a partner in a small employment discrimination law firm in Newark. She has taught at NYU and Rutgers Law Schools and at Yale College, and has spoken and published widely on social justice. Deb graduated from Yale College and NYU School of Law. Deb can be reached at