Tackling Homelessness Is A Community Effort

One of Hoboken’s greatest strengths is that in times of need, we come together as a community.
This year has been no exception, as my administration has been working quietly, without fanfare, over the last nine months to develop a comprehensive approach to tackle homelessness, which I view as both a humanitarian issue for individuals needing assistance, and quality of life issue for our residents.
I’m eager to finally share with you all what our team has developed. Earlier this year, I convened a task force, made up of Hoboken City Hall officials and a variety of public and private stakeholders, including the county of Hudson, private hospitals, the Hoboken Homeless Shelter, Garden State Episcopal, the Hoboken Interfaith Clergy, Easterseals New Jersey, Hudson Pride Center, and others interested in identifying and executing an innovative solution to this problem.
We brought everyone’s unique talents to the table, and from these efforts, we are launching a three-part approach to address homelessness in Hoboken.
The first component is what we are calling the “Familiar Faces” program in Hudson County, which is focused on “mitigation” or literally assisting individuals to come off the streets and into homes. The Familiar Faces Program a first-of-its kind program, which we hope to be a national model. Familiar Faces is a “P4” private-public-nonprofit partnership that taps into private capital financial resources and entities with a stake in the challenge. Specifically, we have secured an initial commitment of $250,000 from two private, for-profit hospitals, Jersey City Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center, to finance housing vouchers, administered through the Office of Gov. Phil Murphy’s Department of Community Affairs. These vouchers come with supportive services through Garden State Episcopal, including substance abuse recovery, physical therapy, mental health rehabilitation, financial literacy, move-in assistance, home furnishing, and more long-term support.
The second component seeks to prevent those at-risk from falling into homelessness. To address this challenge, we have secured the partnership of the charitable organization Easterseals New Jersey, which has agreed to relocate its regional facilities right here in Hoboken, bringing more services to the mile-square city to help seniors and individuals with disabilities find gainful employment, and helping them achieve independence and community integration. This includes job training and skills, resume writing, job placement, and even overcoming cosmetic obstacles, like providing dental work to help individuals appear more presentable in a job interview.
Last, but not least, the third component is founded on our common commitment to compassion for the homeless. While there is no single “cure” to homelessness, and financial assistance and preventative measures are a great start, we can still do more as a City. That’s why we are opening Hoboken’s first all-serve Food Pantry, thanks to a $10,000 donation secured by MBS, the owners of the former YMCA. Residents will also soon see donation meters across the city, similar to parking meters, but which allow Hobokenites an alternative to giving through panhandling, and also help deter panhandling in our City. Our Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Ken Ferrante, is also committed to compassionate approaches to interacting with the homeless community.
But we’re not stopping there. The Task Force meets regularly and is constantly bringing on new partners. We’ve gotten interest from local Hoboken businesses who want to offer skills training, such as cooking, to help people find jobs, contributing to our mission however they can. I invite everyone reading this to contact my office if you think you may play a role as well.
I am touched, but not surprised, by all the good that’s come out of this task force by people who want to help. Tackling homelessness has, for so long, felt like a Sisyphean effort, but that’s because attempts to help have too often been solo missions. In Hudson County, private companies, municipal and county governments, and nonprofit organizations are now all focused on the same task, in what I believe can become a model throughout New Jersey and across the country.
With all of us working together, we can push the boulder to the top of the hill.

Hudson Reporter
Hudson Reporter
News from leading newspapers and magazines serving Hudson County, NJ.
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