Author Archives: merceralliance

NJ Budget Update + More News

Local Advocates Join Statewide Call for Restoration of Affordable Housing Funds – Tapinto

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/articles/local-advocates-join-statewide-call-for-restorati

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.
http://starledger.nj.newsmemory.com/publink.php?shareid=289dc94eb

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.
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/18/05/21/no-april-surprise-in-tax-collections-budget-strain-remains-for-murphy-lawmakers/

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.
https://www.wnyc.org/story/what-does-it-take-protect-children-lead-city-council-proposes-raft-new-legislation/

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.
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/05/more_companies_should_do_their_part_to_reduce_numb.html

Seniors Being Hungry is a Nationwide Epidemic

Nearly one in every six seniors in America faces the threat of hunger and not being properly nourished. This applies to those who aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from and those who don’t have access to the healthiest possible food options. The issue is severe enough that the AARP reports that seniors face a healthcare bill of more than $130 billion every year due to medical issues stemming from senior hunger.

Senior hunger is an expansive issue that requires an understanding of exactly what constitutes a senior being “hungry,” the issues that stem from senior hunger, and how seniors who are hungry can be helped.

To understand the concept of seniors being hungry, you must understand what it means to be “food insecure.” When you are food insecure, it means that there is “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways,” as defined by a study published in The Journal of Nutrition. Essentially, it means that you aren’t receiving and/or don’t have access to the necessary foods and nutrients to help sustain your life.

The concept of being “hungry” is a state-of-mind, meaning that there is a physical aspect to the lack of food. Attending to an area where people are hungry and basically starving is a much more immediate and severe problem to solve. Being food insecure, on the other hand, helps include people who may have enough food and don’t technically live consistently in hunger, but the food they are eating—usually in large amounts—isn’t up to nutritional and dietary standards.

In 2006, the USDA broke down food insecurity into two categories to help determine how food insecure someone is:

Low Food Security

While there may not be an overall reduction in how much food someone is intaking, there may be a lower quality and variety of your diet. For instance, there may be reduced amounts of fresh vegetables and meats, but that may be replaced with fast food. In this category, people don’t miss many meals, but the type of meals that are being eaten diminish in quality.

Very Low Food Security

When you have very low food security, your health and ability to correct it with healthy food is in a dire situation. To be assigned this categorization, the USDA says there must be “multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake,” meaning you’re often missing meals and not eating enough to survive.

The Numbers Behind Senior Hunger

In 2017, there are just more than 49 million Americans age 65 and over, and about 8 million of them can be considered facing the threat of hunger.

Not only is senior hunger such a large issue now, the threat of it persisting as a problem into the future is high because of the high rate of seniors expected to exist. As seniors lost million dollars in the stock market through the 2007 economic recession, their wealth- including retirement funds, insurance payouts, and pension checks – plummeted. This increased the rate at which seniors spent money on lesser quality food in favor of other things like insurance.

In 2014, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH) reported the following facts:

16% Of seniors “face the threat of hunger,” meaning they’re at some level of food insecurity

65% Increase in hunger among the senior populations from 2007 to 2014, which is credited partially to the economic recession that started in 2007

55,000,000 Seniors are expected to be in America by 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

80,000,000 Seniors are expected to take up 20% of the population by 2050

Are Some Seniors More Affected than Others?

An even deeper issue with senior hunger, aside from how many seniors it affects, is how disproportionately the food insecurity is spread out amongst race, class levels, and geographic location. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that contribute to how certain seniors are more affected than the others.

CLASS

NFESH performed a deep analysis of the level of food insecurity among seniors in 2008. Within the report is the role seniors’ closeness to the poverty line plays in how food insecure they are, whether they are marginally food insecure, food insecure, or very low food secure. For example, nearly 80 percent of seniors “below 50 percent of the poverty line,” which in 2013 was $15,510 for a two-person household, were at some level of food insecurity.

While food insecurity rates dropped closer to and above the poverty line, the report clarifies that “hunger cuts across the income spectrum.” More than 50 percent of seniors who are at-risk of being food insecure live above the poverty line.

Craig Gundersen, a professor at the University of Illinois and food security expert, says that the main areas where food insecurity is increasing the most is among Americans making less than $30,000 per year and those between the ages of 60 and 69.

Gundersen blames the increase in food insecurity rates to many things, but primarily there was a decrease in wages and overall net worth after the recession in the late 2000s. Many seniors lost mass amounts of money when the stock markets crashed, and as they’re entering retirement, they didn’t have the time to recover. “Most of them can’t rely on Social Security income, and can’t receive Medicare until they are 65,” Gundersen said.

A Census Bureau report from 2011 notes that about 15 percent of seniors (about one in six) live in poverty, based on a “supplemental poverty measure” that adjusts the poverty level to modern day living expenses. This is important because you are more likely to develop an illness like cancer or heart disease—both often linked to your overall health— when you live in poverty.

RACE

Another issue with senior hunger—and food insecurity in general—is how much race affects the likelihood that you are food insecure. And this is directly tied to class level, as minorities often live in lower income brackets. While the AARP points out that, as you age, the rate of food insecurity raises among all races and ethnicities, there are still those who experience food insecurity at much higher rates.

The aforementioned 2008 report of food insecurity found that African-American seniors were far more likely to have some sort of level of food insecurity than white seniors (almost 50 percent compared to 16 percent) and that Hispanics were more likely to live at some level of food insecurity than non-Hispanics (40 percent compared to 17 percent).

“African-American households are two to two-and-a-half times as likely to be in one of the three categories as the typical senior household,” the report clarified, also noting that Hispanics face similar odds. It’s also more likely in both these minority groups for someone to be food insecure if they are widowed or divorced and live alone.

FOOD DESERTS

As mentioned, there are also certain parts of the country that are more likely to be food insecure than others. Areas where access for fresh produce and food is the most limited are known as “food deserts.” Not only does this include the absence of fresh food, but food deserts also include areas where access to food is inhibited because of the lack of grocery stores or the lack of transportation to get to one.

Food deserts often fall in poorer areas of the country, which further fuels the food insecurity levels due to class.

All but one of the top 10 states for food insecurity are in the South or Midwest. These states match a map of the United States that shows the high concentrations of food deserts. In many of the states with high levels of food insecurity, there are also counties with larger concentrations of areas where there is no supermarket within a mile of people who don’t have a car. For instance, in many counties in Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana, more than 10 percent of the population without a car doesn’t have a supermarket within a mile.

This severely affects an individual’s health. Those who lived more than 1.75 miles from a grocery store actually turned out to have a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who lived closer to one, a 2006 study found.

The Challenges that Can Cause Senior Hunger

As we’ve seen, there are socioeconomic reasons why a senior may be food insecure, and we just looked at some of the main ones. But there are plenty of other factors that may cause someone to not get the proper food they need to maintain their health:

LIVING ALONE

According to a 2012 report, nearly half of the senior households that experienced food insecurity were those where a senior was living alone. There are many things that living alone can do to spur food insecurity, such as not having someone else to help get food from the store if you’re lacking mobility and cook it for you. Living alone also factors into depression and the development of dementia, both of which have side effects of the suppression of hunger. The NFESH study backs this up as well, noting that “those living alone are twice as likely to experience hunger compared to married seniors.”

AGE

Seniors aged below 70 are more likely to experience bouts of food security than those aged 70 and up. The NFESH report showed that as seniors aged, they were less likely to be any level of food insecure, with those under 70 (20 percent) living at some level of food insecurity than those over 80 (14 percent). This can be attributed to many factors, such as the amount of money received from government programs like Medicare (which help alleviate medical costs so more money can be spent on food) and whether or not they live in an assisted living facility, which may help with more consistent eating habits.

EDUCATION LEVEL

Those with a high school degree or no high school degree at all are more likely to experience some sort of food security than those with a college degree. There is a stark drop off of food insecurity levels with someone who at least has some college education. This can be tied to getting paid higher wages at jobs, which then translates to the potential of having more money saved up when you’re older.

Overall, senior women are slightly more likely to be food insecure than men, but the rates are not vast enough to be a determining factor in the likelihood of food insecurity. All of these factors, though—from the big ones like geographic location and race to the smaller ones like age—play into seniors’ overall health, a detrimental factor to how long seniors will live.

Illnesses Caused by Malnourishment

As seniors become more food insecure, they also become more likely to develop diseases and illness that could cut their life short. Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that focuses on hunger issues across the country, took a look at various illness that were more likely to occur when seniors lived with food insecurity. We’ll dive into those illness—along with a couple more—that can stem from eating poor food and eating at an infrequent rate.

Depression

According to a 2017 report from Feeding America, food-insecure seniors are 60 percent more likely to suffer from depression than food-secure seniors. Another study from the AARP determined that food insecure people were nearly three times more likely to suffer from depression.

Some of the leading causes of depression include having conflicts in your interpersonal relationships and life-altering events that completely shift your life, typically trending negative. The inability to provide consistent healthy food for yourself or your family can lead to depression. This is because though you may have once lived food secure, you are constantly worrying about making sure you’re going to have some sort of food on your plate for your next meal. Years of worrying about your next meal can take a toll and put you in a constant depressive mood. If you do suffer from depression, a side effect is a suppressed hunger, and that can further worsen your health—it’s a vicious cycle.

Heart Disease

There are many negative effects food insecurity has on the heart, both from a level of stress and other physiological aspects. The Feeding America study found that seniors who suffer from food insecurity were 40 percent more likely to experience congestive heart failure, where the heart ceases pumping blood around the body at a necessary pace. This is a direct result of the quality of food eaten among food-insecure seniors and how lacking the necessary nutrient—especially when older—can play a role in exacerbating dire health issues.

The inconsistency at which food-insecure seniors eat also fuels stress levels that have negative effects on the heart as they’re consistently worrying about their next meal. The American Heart Association notes that prolonged stress can increase your risk of high blood pressure, overeating, and the lack of physical activity—all leading causes of heart disease. So just as the type of food you’re eating can have physical effects, food insecurity can also have psychological and physiological effects because of the situation at hand.

But these heart issues don’t start once you’re older. The Center for Disease Control conducted a 10-year study on 30 to 59 year olds and the relationship between their levels of food security and their heart. The study found that those with very low food security were far more likely to develop a cardiovascular disease that those who were at least marginally food secure. This shows that health problems associated with food insecurity, while prevalent in seniors, can begin with prolonged exposure to food insecurity.

Diabetes

The overall quality of food—and how inconsistently it’s eaten—plays a role in developing type 2 diabetes in seniors.

A 2012 study, which analyzed the role food insecurity plays in cardiometabolic disease (a disease that increases the risk of diabetes), points out that some aspects of food insecurity include binge eating food when it becomes available and eating energy-dense food, which can put an overall unhealthy strain on the heart and contribute to becoming diabetic. In 2013 and 2014 alone, a separate study found that food-insecure seniors were nearly twice as likely to be diabetic than food-secure seniors. Overall, it concluded that food-insecure seniors were 65 percent more likely to be diabetic.

Not only does food insecurity increase the risk of diabetes, it’s also difficult for a diabetic person to afford a diet that supports diabetes when they are food insecure. When concluding that food insecurity is an independent risk factor in developing diabetes, the study said:

“This risk may be partially attributable to increased difficulty following a diabetes-appropriate diet and increased emotional distress regarding capacity for successful diabetes self-management.”

Limited Activities of Daily Living

Food insecurity among seniors generally affects how they can live their day-to-day lives. Sidney Katz, a physician from the mid-1900s, developed the concept of Activities for Daily Living (ADLs) that helps determine how functional an elderly person is and whether or not they are able to support themselves or not. The six detrimental ADLs to an elderly person include:

  • Bathing
  • Personal hygiene
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Sleeping on their own
  • Mobility (getting in and out of bed, walking, etc.)
  • Being able to feed themselves

The presence of food insecurity has been found to negatively affect seniors’ ability to complete these ADLs, which hinders their ability to continue to live on their own. An NFESH study found that food-insecure seniors were 30 percent more likely to report at least one ADL limitation, and this is largely fueled from being unable to physically get to the store and purchase food. This can then affect a senior’s health and take its toll on other ADLs, such as the ability to go to the bathroom on their own.

Organizations Working to End Senior Hunger

There are ways to combat senior hunger, and there are thousands of workers out there to help stemming from non-profit and governmental organizations.

The primary organization you should know about if you’re a food-insecure senior—or suffer from food insecurity at all—is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known more commonly as food stamps. SNAP assists low-income citizens with getting the necessary food they need.

As of 2014, it was found that less than 50 percent of the elderly eligible for the program were enrolled, which is a staggeringly low number. The government is willing and able to help seniors suffering from food insecurity. You can visit the benefits website to see if you are eligible for the programs and apply.

There are also organizations seeking to end senior hunger and decrease levels of food insecurity among the senior population. Some of these include the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, Meals on Wheels and other food delivery services, USDA services, and AARP:

NFESH

The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger is a large non-profit organization dedicated directly to putting an end to senior hunger. Their vision statement is as follows: “We will identify and assess this challenge in communities through funding senior-specific research, fostering local collaboration and engaging diverse partners. We foresee the creation of tangible, replicable solutions in ending senior hunger to meet the needs of an aging population.”

Government organizations like the USDA started services that bring food to seniors who don’t have the means of getting to a grocery store. There are also organizations like Meals on Wheels that help deliver healthy meals to people of all ages, including seniors.

In addition to developing programs that help get food to seniors’ doorsteps, the USDA offers services that provide financial help to seniors to get the necessary nutritious and fresh food they need to maintain health. These programs include the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, the Nutrition Services Incentive Program, and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

This group has a division that’s dedicated to ending senior hunger and has helped deliver more than 37 million meals to seniors since 2011.

Healthy Eating Tips to Remember

In addition to looking for assistance from organizations, there are steps you can take when buying your groceries to ensure that the money is spent on the proper healthy foods.

Primarily, you must know what you’re looking for when you enter a grocery store, so it’s important to make a list. This way, you won’t deviate from the plan of buying healthy foods. Make sure to look out for deals on healthy food, and buy multiples of one product if it’s non-perishable so you don’t have to make a trip back for the same deal.

It’s also important to not waste any food. If you are buying vegetables and produce in bulk, put them to use and prepare multiple meals at one time. It’s also perfectly fine to freeze meats for months at a time, so buy a few more pounds than you originally planned and put it in the freezer for several weeks from when you buy it.

You should also know exactly what you’re buying. Make sure to not load up on food that is high in carbohydrates. This can contribute to weight gain and cause you to accidentally skip meals if you are too full from previous meals. You should also compare labels when choosing between products. The products with lower sugar and sodium levels are typically better for you than their counterparts.

With these tips and the information presented above in mind, hopefully we as a society can move closer to ending hunger for seniors and our nation as a whole.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson to be sued for suspending Obama-era fair-housing rule

by Tracy Jan
The Washington Post

Fair-housing advocates planned to file a lawsuit early Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for suspending an Obama-era rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration.

The 2015 rule required more than 1,200 communities receiving billions of federal housing dollars to draft plans to desegregate their communities — or risk losing federal funds.

[Complaint filed against HUD Secretary Ben Carson]

After nearly 50 years of inaction, the rule was seen as a belated effort by HUD to enforce the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which compelled communities to use federal dollars to end segregation in residential neighborhoods.

The 2015 rule, developed over a six-year period, required every community receiving HUD funding to assess local segregation patterns, diagnose the barriers to fair housing and develop a plan to correct them. Most communities were supposed to submit their plans to HUD every five years, beginning in 2016. Communities without HUD-approved plans would no longer receive federal housing dollars.

Carson, who has long criticized federal efforts to desegregate American neighborhoods as “failed socialist experiments,” suspended the rule in January, allowing local and state governments to continue receiving HUD grants without compliance with the full requirements of the Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit alleges Carson unlawfully suspended the 2015 rule by not providing advanced public notice or opportunity for comment, according to a draft obtained by The Washington Post.

The agency said local jurisdictions must continue to promote fair housing but granted communities until at least 2024 in most cases to do so, according to a three-page notice published in the Federal Register.

HUD said it based its decision on the fact that more than a third of the 49 plans initially submitted to the agency were rejected as incomplete or inconsistent with fair-housing and civil rights requirements.

Fair-housing advocates who helped develop the rule under the Obama administration said that is precisely why the rule is necessary and that nearly all of the rejected plans were soon accepted after HUD officials stepped in to help.

[Carson to propose raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies]

The agency, in its January announcement, said that the process is too burdensome for communities and that too many HUD resources were being devoted to helping them revise their plans. As a result, HUD said, it would discontinue its review of plans and directed communities in the process of revising their plans not to submit them.

The agency said it would use the additional time to streamline the process and provide more technical assistance so that communities stand a better chance of having their plans approved on the first try.

In the meantime, HUD said communities should revert to what they were supposed to have been doing before the 2015 rule and certify that they have conducted an analysis of impediments to fair housing and taken actions to overcome them.

Housing advocates said the retreat would perpetuate housing segregation, given earlier assessments that the previous provisions were essentially toothless.

“HUD has continued to grant federal dollars to municipalities even when they know the municipalities are engaging in discrimination,” said Lisa Rice, president and chief executive of the National Fair Housing Alliance, one of three housing advocacy groups that joined the lawsuit. “They are rewarding cities for bad behavior.”

In 2008, the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, led by former HUD secretaries Jack Kemp, a Republican, and Henry Cisneros, a Democrat, reported that “HUD requires no evidence that anything is actually being done as a condition of funding.”

In 2009, HUD found that many communities could not produce documentation of their efforts to assess and address fair-housing concerns.

A 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that nearly a third of jurisdictions had not completed an analysis within five years. Of the ones that had, the GAO found that most were limited to aspirational statements of vague goals without defined time frames.

“HUD required jurisdictions only to certify that, every few years, they analyzed barriers to fair housing in their communities, made gestures in the direction of solving them, and memorialized this analysis in their own files (never reviewed by HUD),” the lawsuit said, according to the draft. “As both HUD and the Government Accountability Office found, putting local jurisdictions on the honor system was ineffective.”

[Carson’s mission statement for HUD may no longer include anti-discrimination language]

Rice met with Carson last week to ask him to reinstate the rule and enforce it. The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and Texas Appleseed, two nonprofit organizations that had previously sued HUD over other fair-housing issues, also joined the lawsuit.

A HUD spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, pointing to a statement in January when the agency suspended the rule. “The Assessment of Fair Housing tool for local governments wasn’t working well,” the HUD statement said. “HUD stands by the Fair Housing Act’s requirement to affirmatively furthering fair housing, but we must make certain that the tools we provide to our grantees work in the real world.”

The lawsuit also accuses HUD of violating its statutory duty to ensure that federal funds are used to promote fair housing and seeks a court order requiring the agency to immediately restart the rule.

“Decades of experience have shown that, left to their own devices, local jurisdictions will simply pocket federal funds and do little to further fair housing objectives,” the lawsuit said. “Judicial intervention is necessary to vindicate the rule of law and to bring fair housing to communities that have been deprived of it for too long.”

In 2009, a district court found Westchester County in New York could produce no evidence that it had ever evaluated the extent of racial segregation or committed to a plan to redress it.

The county had for years certified it was complying with the Fair Housing Act, even as it deliberately concentrated affordable housing in a small number of predominantly black and Latino communities while distributing millions in HUD grants to overwhelmingly white suburbs that refused to allow affordable housing, according to the complaint against HUD.

After the 2009 court decision, HUD began asking municipalities to submit their analyses of housing patterns. More than a third could not produce one. Of those that did, half were deemed unacceptable. And only a fifth of the jurisdictions that submitted their analyses committed to doing anything within a particular time frame.

The exercise eventually resulted in the 2015 rule requiring communities take meaningful action to overcome long-standing patterns of segregation and analyze housing patterns, concentrated poverty and disparities in access to transportation, jobs and good schools.

Since the rule, housing advocates say, many communities have made great strides. Officials in Paramount, Calif., have set deadlines to amend its zoning ordinance to make housing more inclusive. New Orleans has promised to create 140 affordable rental units in wealthier communities by 2021 and increase homeownership among families receiving housing subsidies by 10 percent each year.

[What Ben Carson gets wrong about segregation in the United States]

Chester County, Pa., promised to make it easier for low-income families receiving housing vouchers to move to wealthier neighborhoods with better schools and more job opportunities. El Paso County, Colo., has committed to developing 100 subsidized affordable housing units in communities with better opportunities. Philadelphia committed to addressing the problem of widespread evictions in minority neighborhoods.

But many communities continue to struggle to address the impediments to fair housing, advocates say. In Hidalgo County, Tex., which has historically ignored the needs of the predominantly Latino population in “colonias” that often lack basic infrastructure such as water, sewage, electricity and paved roads, officials have no incentive to improve their plan now that HUD no longer requires it.

And advocates worry that Corpus Christi, Tex., will not direct hundreds of millions of dollars in federal disaster relief money after Hurricane Harvey toward fair housing.

“My fear is that HUD’s rescission of the rule tells communities, ‘You’re off the hook,’ ” said Madison Sloan, director of Texas Appleseed’s Disaster Recovery and Fair Housing project. “ ‘We’re going to keep giving you money even while you keep perpetuating segregation.’ ”

Carson, during his January 2017 confirmation hearing, criticized the 2015 rule for compelling communities receiving HUD funding to look around for “anything that looks like discrimination.”

“They’re not responding to people saying there’s a problem,” Carson said. “They’re saying go and look for a problem and then give us a solution. And what I believe to be the case is we have people sitting around their desks in Washington, D.C., deciding on how things should be done, you know, telling mayors and commissioners that you need to build this place right here and you need to put these kinds of people at it.”

Great news from the Governor’s Transition Teams on Housing!

The Mercer Alliance is supportive of the priority recommendations contained in the report. Of particular note is the recommendation to adopt Housing First­ as State policy. A policy that the Mercer Alliance and its partners have been forerunners in successfully developing and implementing in our community; and had made a key component of recommendations of the New Jersey Interagency Council on Homelessness in 2014. Included in the Housing First recommendations were suggestions to redirect Emergency Assistance policies, eliminating “compliance review” determination of individuals “causing their own homelessness, and allowing lifetime benefits. Additionally, collaboration across systems and funding streams, and prevention are recommended as priorities.

These are certainly key victories for advocates and providers, and are essential to the establishment of effective and sustainable Housing First systems.

We are reminded, however, that the Transition Team’s reports are “purely advisory”. Nonetheless, they constitute a promising approach to addressing homelessness and housing needs under Governor Murphy’s administration.

View the full ​report

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness approves Daniel R. Ryan to Board of Directors

Trenton, New Jersey —- The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness unanimously approved the nomination of Daniel R. Ryan, to its Board of Directors at their meeting on November 14, 2017.  Mr. Ryan has a Masters of Arts in Theology from Duquesne University and a Master of Education in Adult Education/Human Resource Management from Iowa State University, and a BA in Philosophy/Psychology from Duquesne University. Mr. Ryan currently works as a Senior Vice-President, North Buffalo Advisors, LLC in Hamilton New Jersey.

“Mr. Ryan brings a unique perspective to providing youth related services and counseling. Additionally, he brings valuable private sector experience and insight in the areas of organizational planning and function, both of which are important to our collaborative systems building efforts to address homelessness in the Trenton/Mercer community”, said Frank A. Cirillo, Executive Director of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness.

Founded in 2004, the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is a public-private partnership of the county’s business, government and the non-profit sectors. Its mission is to develop and implement strategies and systems to end homelessness in Mercer County through permanent housing.  We can. We must. We will End Homelessness.

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness approves Pastor Rupert A. Hall Jr. to Board of Directors

Trenton, New Jersey —- The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness unanimously approved the nomination of Pastor Rupert A. Hall, Jr. to its Board of Directors at their meeting on November 14, 2017.  Pastor Hall has a Juris Doctorate degree from Rutgers School of Law and a BS degree in Economics-Finance and Accounting from University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia. Pastor Hall current serves the leader of the Turning United Methodist Church in Trenton New Jersey.

“Pastor Hall provides the Mercer Alliance Board with a spirit of community activism from his pastoral leadership at Turning Point United Methodist Church, and his valuable experience in the legal and business fields. He has demonstrated an avid interest in addressing issues of poverty and homelessness and a desire to work to lift the prospects of the most challenged citizens of our community”, said Frank A. Cirillo, Executive Director of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness.

Founded in 2004, the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is a public-private partnership of the county’s business, government and the non-profit sectors. Its mission is to develop and implement strategies and systems to end homelessness in Mercer County through permanent housing.  We can. We must. We will End Homelessness.

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness Receives Community Foundation Grant

Trenton, New Jersey —- Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness received a $25,000.00 grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation, the community foundation serving Mercer County and central New Jersey.   Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, which was one of 15 organizations to receive a Community Impact Grant from the Community Foundation, will use the grant in support of ending chronic homelessness in Trenton and Mercer County.   Grants totaling more than $590,000.00 were awarded to local nonprofits for program and operating support.

“The Mercer Alliance is honored to have been awarded a generous $25,000 grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation. This will allow us to continue to build upon our ground-breaking work to end homelessness in the Trenton/Mercer Community”, said Frank Cirillo, Executive Director of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness.

“This year the Alliance will use the funding to focus on unstably housed and homeless youth between the ages of 18-25, particularly those known to the child welfare and juvenile justice system. In addition, we will work to expand housing resources for seniors 55 years and older,” said Cirillo.

Founded in 2004, the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is a public-private partnership of the county’s business, government and the nonprofit sectors. Its mission is to develop and implement strategies and systems to end homelessness in Mercer County through permanent housing. 

Utilizing Housing First policy, the Mercer Alliance has developed systems that have become State and national models for ending homelessness for families, singles, and veterans; particularly those experiencing chronic homelessness. As a result of these initiatives singles homelessness in the Trenton/Mercer area has been reduced by 63% compared to the State average of 43% and the national average of 31%, and ended veterans’ homelessness in 2015. Family homelessness has been reduced by 74% compared to the state average of 58% and the national average of 18%.

 As impressive as these accomplishments are, there is still a great deal of work to do to prevent and end homelessness, and to ensure that individuals and families experiencing homelessness are rapidly rehoused and can access the necessary resources and services to succeed. Building effective systems that identify and maximize community resources, promote collaborative efforts, and creative solutions are essential to meeting these challenges.

The Mercer Alliance is extremely grateful to the Princeton Area Community Foundation for continuing to recognize the unique and impactful role the Mercer Alliance plays in combating and ending homelessness, and the value of supporting its collaborative system building initiatives through the generosity of their grant funding.

The Princeton Area Community Foundation promotes philanthropy to advance the well-being of our communities forever. The Community Foundation provides charitable giving expertise to individuals, nonprofits and corporations, and each year invests millions of dollars into the community through grants and scholarships. For more information on the Community Foundation please contact them at 609-219-1800 or online at www.pacf.org

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness approves Anita D. Wemple to Board of Directors

The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness unanimously approved the nomination of Anita D. Wemple, to its Board of Directors at their meeting on September 12, 2017.  Ms. Wemple has a Masters of Social Work from Rutgers University, and a BS in Human Resource Management from Rider University. She brings significant experience in non-profit and program development. During her tenure at Rutgers she worked to develop programs for at-risk youth, including homeless youth. Ms. Wemple also worked as a program coordinator and manager for The Center for Nonprofit Management and Governance at Rutgers, and AmeriCorps. Additionally, she was a training coordinator for the New Jersey Welfare Training Partnership that facilitated best practices training for State of NJ social workers. Ms. Wemple currently works as a manager of youth services at Isles.

“Ms. Wemple brings an important perspective to providing services to homeless and at risk youth that is both welcomed and needed as the Alliance and its government and community partners continue to develop and implement strategies and programs to end youth homelessness in 2017-18, in addition she will provide valuable insight and support to our on-going efforts to end homelessness for families and individuals”, said Frank A. Cirillo, Executive Director of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness.

Founded in 2004, the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is a public-private partnership of the county’s business, government and the non-profit sectors. Its mission is to develop and implement strategies and systems to end homelessness in Mercer County through permanent housing.  We can. We must. We will End Homelessness.

Rushed Senate Consideration of GOP ACA Repeal Bill Designed to Hide Severe Flaws

Congressional Republicans are making a last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through their latest plan, from Senators Cassidy and Graham, and reportedly are close to securing the votes of 50 senators needed to push the bill through the Senate before September 30th.

Such a strategy would violate the principals of “regular order” even more egregiously than the non-transparent, partisan process of the previous repeal bills.

It would amount to passing a poorly understood bill through the Senate within two weeks without hearings, floor debate, input from constituents, and without a comprehensive Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the bill’s impact.

Senators Cassidy and Graham and their counterparts appear set to take the exact approach they criticized, precisely in order to hide the bill’s damaging impact on coverage, consumer costs, and consumer protections.

This bill is in many ways as bad as – or worse than – previous repeal bills that have failed to pass Congress this year.

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US Senate bill would increase investment in affordable homes + More of Today’s News

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