by Mary Gay Abbott-Young, CEO, Rescue Mission of Trenton
As I’ve watched the sun rise, every morning throughout the past month, I marvel at how, during even the worst of times, the best somehow comes out in those who truly care for others.
Since the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been inspired by knowing that our community’s commitment to serve those who are most vulnerable remains unwavering.
In just a few short weeks, we needed to dramatically alter the entire operation of The Mission, creating best possible practices to safely feed those in our community who are hungry, house those who are homeless, and provide opportunities for those seeking recovery.
Advice has been sought from experts, as decisions have been carefully considered, then made, and implemented on a dime.
For instance, we had to move some of our tenants to a new temporary location so that we could create a separate wing in The Shelter to keep our most vulnerable homeless clients safe. This complicated move was only able to occur because of an enormous amount of cooperation from our tenants, our close partnership with HomeFront, and the accelerated authorization from the Department of Community Affairs.
We also implemented a comprehensive telehealth program – with over 225 appointments each week – so that those recovering from substance abuse disorder could continue their progress by having virtual appointments with our in-house professional licensed counseling staff, as well as counseling sessions with our licensed partner providers, and medical appointments with the Henry J. Austin Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Clinic.
Meanwhile, onsite, group counseling and meals have been rescheduled to allow for smaller gatherings of individuals to meet at a safe distance from each other. And since visitors and volunteer services needed to be suspended, we have arranged for behavioral health clients to have Skype visits with their families.
Because of the complex nature of each of those decisions, every day we are involved in thorough discussions as we navigate this unchartered territory, collaborating and coordinating with State, County and City officials, our Medical Director Dr. Williams, and our partner providers – including Capitol Health, HomeFront, Catholic Charities, Mill Hill, New Horizon, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Meals on Wheels, and the Henry J. Austin Health Center.
Through it all, we continue to serve our clients 24-hours a day, seven days-a-week, providing: 151 individuals in our Shelter with three warm meals and a safe place to sleep; 41 people who were formerly homeless with permanent supportive housing; and 83 individuals with counseling and recovery services in our Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program.
And, of course, we are profoundly aware that each and every one of those numbers represents a very personal story.
To create these and other necessary changes, our costs have increased rapidly and will continue to grow. Meanwhile, we had to cancel our only annual fundraising event, which traditionally raises $60,000.
Those are just some of the facts, decisions and concerns that face us each day.
Meanwhile, with all of the precautions we are taking, what is in the forefront of our hearts and minds is a deep concern for the health and safety of everyone in The Mission’s family.
What brings me solace is knowing that anything we face at The Mission, we face together, as a community – with our colleagues, with those we serve, with our Board of Directors, and with all of those who support us.
Together we connect with each other and gather strength – so we can carry on for another day, renewed, knowing that we all believe in, and are committed to, a deep and abiding purpose.
In the face of immense uncertainty – knowing that for those we serve there are no other options – we try everything possible.
And with the enduring belief th
The latest and third emergency funding package (CV3) was finalized last night. Here’s a snapshot of the national picture – more info to come on NJ’s share of these allocations soon!
HEALTHCARE: Some preliminary highlights:
- The first emergency funding request (CV1) allocated over $3B to the Secretary of HHS to be invested in state and local health departments ($950M), community health centers ($100M), and the purchasing of vaccines and treatments ($300M), etc.
- CV3 includes an additional $100 billion for a new program that will direct aid to health care institutions treating patients on the front line of the crisis. These include hospitals, public and not-profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers.
- CV3 includes $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to purchase personal protective equipment, lab testing, infection control and mitigation to prevent spread, and other public health preparedness and response activities
- CV3 also includes $3.5 billion to help healthcare sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential access childcare assistance.
- CV3 includes an extended UI program that increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week and ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months. It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed workers and workers in the gig economy. We pushed for structural reforms that will allow workers to get unemployment insurance quickly and would allow furloughed workers to stay on as employees, so that when, God willing, this crisis ends, they can quickly resume work.
- CV3 provides direct cash payments of $1200 to working class Americans, twice the amount originally proposed. An additional $500 cash payment is available per child. Senator Booker was among the first to advocate for direct, immediate cash payments to families.
- CV3 allocates more than $7 billion for housing and homelessness assistance programs to help underserved and working-class Americans avoid evictions and minimize impacts caused by unemployment or other unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19.
- Throughout the crisis, Senator Booker has fought to protect families who fall behind on payments for rent or mortgage, advocated for student loan relief, and filed legislation to temporarily ban bank overdraft fees.
- New Jersey is now approved for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program – businesses can apply for long term, low interest loans through the SBA’s website.
- In CV3, Senator Booker and Democrats pushed for an additional $10 billion for SBA to provide emergency grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses. There’s another $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.
- CV3 includes $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions for them to provide continuing educational service to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions.
- To ensure that children with disabilities are receiving the educational support they need while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Booker has urged the US Dept. of Education to provide school administrators and educators with the guidance on how students will receive access to school lunch programs, online instruction, and other critical services.
Please note that this is a rapidly evolving situation and that Senator Booker’s team will post regular updates on his website. For more information on the State of New Jersey’s response, or for questions, please visit www.covid19.nj.gov
As coronavirus continues to fundamentally alter our daily lives, I ask that you take the time to responsibly check in on loved ones, friends, and neighbors – and most importantly, take care of your own well-being. During these trying times, practicing kindness, compassion, and love will go a long way to rising above this challenge.
Beginning January 1, 2020 The STATE of NEW JERSEY OPERATES THE MERCER COUNTY HOMELESS HOTLINE (including Code Blue)
Mercer County Residents experiencing a homeless emergency
PLEASE CALL 211
Service is free, confidential, multilingual and always open.
By Jonathan D. Salant |
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
One would protect Sandy victims from having to pay back federal assistance if the government decides more than three years later that they received too much aid. The other would allow them to receive both Small Business Administration disaster loans and Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance grants.
“The federal government has made it difficult for some in our community to recover from Sandy because of the actions of a few bad actors,” said Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist.
“Without this change in the law, FEMA could continue to change their mind on grants and make disaster victims pay back previously awarded disaster assistance, sometimes years after the award.”
Both provisions were championed by MacArthur and were added to legislation that continued Federal Aviation Administration operations for five years.
The FAA bill also included a House-passed provision sponsored by Rep. Donald Payne Jr. to have the Department of Homeland Security help develop plans for stronger security at passenger railroad stations and the non-secure areas of airports.
“Heightened security has made attacks against aircraft more difficult to carry out, so terrorists have turned their attention to soft targets such as the crowded public areas of airports and other facilities,” said Payne, D-10th Dist.
And the FAA measure includes several programs for the technical center in Egg Harbor Township, which employs 3,500 people. There are millions of dollars in the bill to expand the facility and its research programs.
“It will allow critical research programs to continue uninterrupted while ensuring our FAA Technical Center has a leading role in developing, testing and deploying advanced aviation technologies in the 21st Century,” said Rep Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., the House aviation subcommittee chairman.
As for the Sandy measures, the first bill MacArthur introduced as a member of Congress would limit to three years the time FEMA could recoup overpayments to victims, except in cases of fraud or abuse. The House passed that bill last December.
The second provision would allow the president to permit disaster victims to receive both aid and loans from the federal government.
“The federal government should make it easier, not harder for those who have just gone through a natural disaster,” MacArthur said. “When homes and businesses are destroyed, the last thing families should have to worry about is whether taking an SBA loan will disqualify them for FEMA grants that become available later on.”
Congressional Republicans have been reticent to help those who suffered losses from Hurricane Sandy but not those from more recent storms in GOP-led states. The current House speaker, Paul Ryan, R-Wis., even voted against Sandy after the storm hit.
Congress last year voted to give special tax breaks to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria while rebuffing efforts to do the same for those who suffered property damage under Sandy. Most House Democrats opposed the measure because it excluded Sandy victims from its benefits.
In addition, a majority of House Republicans voted to strip $900 million out of a spending bill to build a new Hudson River train tunnel to the existing tube could be taken out of service to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. The effort failed.
Governor says his new economic plan will help rejuvenate rundown neighborhoods, give tax credits for affordable housing
A day after unveiling an ambitious economic development plan, Gov. Phil Murphy and members of his administration gave some details on several new programs that would provide tax credits to help revitalize communities and build much-needed housing.
Speaking in Atlantic City yesterday to several hundred attendees at the annual Governor’s Conference on, Murphy stressed the importance of ensuring that actions to improve the state’s economy include building homes affordable to New Jerseyans.
“Economic development cannot be skewed to mean only that which benefits shareholders,” Murphy said. “We can have strong economic growth and safe, affordable housing options for families. We can have strong and diverse communities.”
Murphy’s remarks were part of a different tone at this year’s conference, his first as governor. Administration officials talked about a number of state programs and initiatives to help officials with economic development dilemmas. Sometimes the programs offer financial incentives and other times technical assistance. For many in the housing community, the fact that Murphy turned up at the conference to discuss his plans showed the importance he places on developing local economies.
“I know you hear from the governor every year at this event,” Murphy joked to murmurs and laughter, making a reference to former Gov. Chris Christie’s absence from prior conferences.
Murphy: ‘We must have bigger goals’
“We have a new mindset on what ‘economic development’ means,” he continued. “We’re not going to gauge our success simply by the number of new businesses we create or the amount of capital flowing into New Jersey … We must have bigger goals. A more diverse and inclusive economy, with hundreds of thousands more jobs at better wages, especially for women and minorities, and a significantly lower urban poverty rate.”Murphy went on to discuss four of the planks of his day-old
“We’re excited,” said Leslie Anderson, president and CEO of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority during the opening session of the conference. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”
Three of these programs envision the use of state tax credits, although the administration has not provided any estimates of the costs. Officials said on Monday that the tax credits will be so targeted and carefully limited by caps that they will generate enough revenue growth to more than pay for the forgiven tax liabilities. All these programs would need legislative approval.
One of these is a revamped program to reclaim and redevelop brownfields, which are vacant commercial and industrial sites that either have or are suspected of having some sort of environmental contamination. The new program would include a “more timely” remediation and development tax credit, as well as a dedicated loan fund available through the state Economic Development Authority.
Tax credits for a range of investments
“Sites that were part of our economic past can be part of our future — where new and affordable housing can replace a barren lot, connecting a community rather than separating it,” Murphy said.
A second program called NJ Aspire would provide tax credits for investments in commercial, residential, and mixed-use development in cities, downtowns and suburban neighborhoods served by mass transit. The EDA’s Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program, or ERG, fulfills a similar purpose currently.
“NJ Aspire can help facilitate the conversion of surface parking lots, vacant and abandoned lots, and other underutilized properties into the cornerstones of inviting, thriving, and diverse communities where new residents will flock, and where the arts and culture, and small businesses, can flourish,” Murphy said.
The third tax credit would be available for historic preservation projects and be modeled on a federal program that Murphy said has provided a nearly 30-percent return on investment at the same time as it created jobs and gave older structures a new purpose.
“Let’s put returns like this to work for our state,” Murphy said.
Federal program for distressed neighborhoods
The fourth plank, and one on which the state is placing a lot of emphasis, would not involve significant state spending. New Jersey is hoping for big returns from the new federal Opportunity Zone program, which is meant to bring new private investment into distressed neighborhoods by giving investors preferential tax treatment for spending in those areas. New Jersey has designated 169 census tracts across the state as zones.
“It is into these communities — overlooked areas where significant numbers of residents live in persistent poverty — that we will aim to direct new private capital investment, to create jobs and restore economic vitality,” Murphy said.
The state has created a zone mapping tool and agencies are working to provide information to municipal officials and identify projects that are “ready to go” so that once final rules are in place they might take advantage of potential investments. Additionally, the EDA is working on a “digital marketplace” to make it easier to help businesses and entrepreneurs find zones for their investments. A conference session on the zones was so popular that there was even no room for standing inside.
Leaders of the key state agencies involved in economic development and housing discussed other projects in the works to help struggling communities and, in many cases, provide homes for those with low incomes. Among them:
- Providing financial assistance to about 2,000 first-time homebuyers over the next two years;
- Awarding as much as $30 million in tax credits a year over three years to build 1,500-2,000 low-income housing units, with priority given to communities with high-performing schools and opportunity zones;
- Including healthcare components, such as a nurse and physical activities on site, in new senior-citizen housing construction to better help residents be able to live in their apartments longer;
- Partnering with hospitals to help fund new housing developments of 60-70 units in distressed areas to provide homes for the homeless, low-income residents and hospital staff.
Murphy: Not going to let plan ‘sit on a shelf’
“We are starting on the road at the micro level to enact what the governor announced yesterday in a real way,” said Charles Richman, executive director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
Murphy lauded the state’s efforts in economic development and housing and vowed to see the ideas in his plan to fruition.
“The plan we unveiled yesterday is not something we’re going to let sit on a shelf,” he said. “We’re going to put it to work for our communities and our state.”
As such, Murphy provided a new mission for the annual conference.
“This cannot be just an annual chance for us to get together to talk about the challenges facing our state that never seem to get fixed,” he said. “We must instead make this an annual check-in, to gauge our progress from the year before in tackling our challenges, and in moving our state forward as one.”
WHY: National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day
WHEN: Friday, December 21st
WHERE: Turning Point United Methodist Church – 15 South Broad Street, Trenton, NJ 08608
*TIME: 10:00 a.m.
All are welcome to attend and remember those who were lost this year.
* The time may be subject to change.
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of our former chairman Clifford Goldman.
Cliff was a gifted individual of great character, intellect and compassion. He was able to bring his abundant talents together to passionately advocate on behalf of the homeless families and individuals of the Trenton/Mercer community, and guide and promote the development of the Alliance’s nationally recognized efforts to end homelessness.
His great personal warmth and spirit infused the Alliance and its community and governmental partners with the zeal to develop creative, yet pragmatic, solutions that focused on using permanent housing to end homelessness, and reconnect our most challenged citizens with our community,
He will be greatly missed by us all, but forever remembered for his many contributions as a true public servant.
Cliff’s family has chosen to direct memorial contributions in his memory to the Coalition of Peace Action or the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness.
Memorial contributions to the Mercer Alliance should be sent directly to:
Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness
1001 Spruce Street, Suite 205
Trenton, NJ 08638
The leaders of several local organizations including Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Saint Paul’s Community Development Corporation, the Paterson Housing Authority, and the City of Paterson’s Neighborhood Assistance Office lent their signatures to a letter urging Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature to preserve a fund dedicated to creation of affordable housing across the state….Signatories to the letter, dated May 15 and sent by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, a statewide association of more than 250 individuals and organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities, expressed their “deep concern” about a proposal by Murphy’s Administration to divert $46 million from the fund. Bob Guarasci, Founder and CEO of the New Jersey Development Corporation (NJCDC), the well recognized non-profit organization leading efforts to revitalize the city’s Great Falls Area, also signed the letter and told TAPinto Paterson that he is “hopeful that the Governor and Legislature will work collaboratively to maximize resources for affordable housing, from the Trust Fund and other potential sources.” – https://www.tapinto.net/
Graffiti artist paints his way to respect – Star Ledger
Hector Garcia had doubts about the pitch from a graffiti artist, who, unbeknownst to him, had once tagged property in the Ironbound section of Newark. Vincent Santorella promised to paint a mural on the side of Garcia’s store, Station Wines & Liquors, and he guaranteed that no one would deface it because he knew the graffiti writers in the area. Garcia didn’t have anything to lose, considering the grassroots Ironbound Community Corp. offered to pay for the work with a grant.
No ‘April Surprise’ in State Taxes, Budget Strain Remains for Murphy and Lawmakers – NJ Spotlight
The latest state tax-collection figures were unveiled by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration yesterday, and they did nothing to help end a simmering disagreement between legislative leaders and the governor over taxes and the next state budget. Lawmakers who had been holding out hope that April income-tax collections would surge well above projections instead heard state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio deliver a revenue update that indicated tax collections are tracking very closely to the latest projections with just weeks left in the current fiscal year.
What Does it Take to Protect Children From Lead? – WNYC
Several members of New York City Council have introduced what they call the largest overhaul of city laws on childhood lead exposure in 14 years. The package of 23 bills aims to protect children from lead poisoning by tackling lead in paint, dust, water and soil throughout the city.
More companies should do their part to reduce number of N.J.’s ‘working poor’ – NJ Advance Media
Janet and Daniella were prime examples of women whom the United Way define as ALICE — Asset Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. “ALICE” lives and works in every community — but does not earn enough to cover basic essentials and pay for monthly expenses. One-quarter of New Jersey households are considered ALICE, despite being one of the wealthiest states in the nation.