Jersey City expands homeless services

Free laundry and permanent showers to be installed at drop-in center

Jersey City began offering showers to the homeless through mobile units in Journal Square in 2019. Now, permanent facilities will be constructed. (Photo provided by City of Jersey City.)
Jersey City began offering showers to the homeless through mobile units in Journal Square in 2019. Now, permanent facilities will be constructed. (Photo provided by City of Jersey City.)

To help those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Jersey City will expand outreach efforts with a $2 million commitment.

According to an announcement from Mayor Steven Fulop, the Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA,) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), these funds will be used to enhance health and social services through community partner and operator of Jersey City’s drop-in site, Garden State Community Development Corporation (GSCDC).

Stemming from the success of Jersey City’s free mobile public showers program, which targets the homeless population to promote personal hygiene amid the pandemic, the city will invest $2 million to increase services offered to the homeless – ranging from permanent shower facilities and free laundry to expanding case management operations and mental health services.

“We are looking to take a more comprehensive approach to help our homeless residents with a resource-oriented facility that can provide assistance in a setting that also provides dignity and respect,” said Fulop.

Facility renovations

Currently, the Jersey City Housing Authority leases space at 514 Newark Ave. at the Hudson Gardens public housing complex to GSCDC, which operates as a drop-in center for the homeless.

Now, the space will be renovated and expanded which will help the Health and Human Services Department provide congregate meals at a new dining facility incorporating social distancing features.

The space will include free laundry facilities and permanent shower facilities.

The existing breezeway, currently an unused entry space, will be transformed into a welcome center incorporating social distancing features. An elevator will be installed to ensure ADA compliance.

The bathrooms will be renovated, and the case management and intake facilities operated by GSCDC will be renovated and expanded.

“Garden State Community Development Corporation is excited to partner with the City of Jersey City on the redevelopment of the program space for GSCDC’s Hudson CASA Coordinated Entry Program for the Homeless, which serves Hudson County’s homeless individuals and families,” said Carol Mori, GSCDC executive director. “With Jersey City providing showers, laundry, and food service to our program, it will greatly improve the level of service provided to some of our most vulnerable residents.”

GSCDC implemented the Hudson CASA Coordinated Entry Program for homeless individuals and families in 2014,  and has since served over 3,500 homeless people each year.

To date, GSCDC has developed over 332 units of affordable housing and provides 250 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals and families that include case management wrap-around services to help ensure continued housing stability.

“Now more than ever, the growing need for vital health and safety services is critical for everyone in our community,” said JCHA Director Vivian Brady-Phillips. “By transforming this site, we’re creating a one-stop center and trusted resource for anyone experiencing homelessness where they can find a longer-term solution for housing and access essential support services.”

“What we have already been able to accomplish at our Mobile Showers Site alone has been tremendous, especially during the pandemic where hygiene has proven to play a critical role in reducing the spread throughout the community,” said Stacey Flanagan, HHS director. “In the past year, we’ve seen an exponential increase in residents asking for help with food and other basic necessities. By building a more permanent resource with a myriad of services available to those in need, we are providing the tools for long-term stability and success.”

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