In an effort to deal with an historic rise in homelessness, for the first time ever Hoboken officials are hiring two social workers tasked with coping with the problem.
Ken Ferrante, Hoboken’s director of public safety, said in an interview with the Hudson Reporter that the pair would work hand in hand with the city’s office of Constituent Services and the Public Safety Department.
“Those coming from homelessness come from a variety of situations,” said Ferrante. “We want our social workers to bridge the gap and get them connected to the services they need.”
Their salaries adopted by the City Council in September would be in a salary of $45,000 to $85,000 for one social worker, and $55,000 to $105,000 for the second.
Ferrante said that over the years issues related to homelessness have fallen to the police department to deal with, which he said should not be the case unless a homeless individual is a threat to themselves or to the community.
At a city council meeting November 14, Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino asked about the status of interviews for the social worker positions, to which Jason Freeman, the city’s business administrator said, “We just finished the last round of interviews.”
This year 8,754 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in the state of New Jersey, according to a report compiled by Monarch Housing Associates, a non profit organization which focuses on ways to reduce homelessness in New Jersey.
The report also takes into account the Point-In-Time or the count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness in a given day. Earlier this year, an elderly man was found dead at Church Square Park as reported by Patch.
“The visibility of homelessness has risen as more people work from home,” said Jaclyn Cherubini, who has been the director of Hoboken Shelter, a non profit organization, for 18 years. She said the shelter provides housing for 50 members per night, serving up to 500 daily meals and providing about 1,000 showers a week. “I am pleased the city is finally moving forward with hiring two social workers, as I had been in conversations about this with them for years.”
White Non-Hispanic/Latino persons ranked the highest with over 50 percent experiencing poverty or a condition of homelessness, compared to other racial and ethnic groups according to the data.
The five largest ethnic groups in Hoboken, NJ are White (Non-Hispanic) (67.1%), Asian (Non-Hispanic) (11.7%), White (Hispanic) (10.1%), Two+(Hispanic) (3.26%), and Two +(Non-Hispanic) (3%), according to the city’s 2020 census data.
Councilman Ruben Ramos, a Democrat who once represented the 33rd legislative district in the state Assembly, said the city would expand its 2022 municipal budget to include a full-time employee to help the homeless population.
“Interviews were just completed and hopefully we’ll have these individuals in place in the very near future,” said Ramos.
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