Author Archives: merceralliance

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.

cassidy-graham

Read the Report

Download the PDF (4pp)

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

Senate bill would increase investment in affordable housing
Philadelphia Inquirer

Due to success stories like these and so many others, competition for LIHTCs is intense. Two out of every three proposals are rejected each year, largely because of the limited resources available. But a bipartisan bill has a chance to further the program’s impact. Introduced by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) and Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 would double the amount of credits made available each year.

Read More

Will Affordable-Housing Decision Be Derailed by Judge’s Ties to Developer
NJ Spotlight

New Jersey’s only municipality to receive its affordable-housing obligation from a judge’s order is continuing to appeal that number, even as construction is underway on the first new developments since the Supreme Court got back in the middle of the Mount Laurel housing controversy. The township is claiming the Superior Court judge was compromised by a relationship with the developer.

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Christie Signs Code Blue Standards into Law

We are thrilled to announce that this afternoon, Governor Christie signed a bill that requires county emergency management coordinators to establish a Code Blue Program to shelter the homeless during severe weather events. Congratulations to everyone who called and e-mailed, making this possible. On the new law, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Network Staci Berger issued the following statement:

“We are happy the governor has signed this bill that provides individuals out on the street with a warm place to rest during severe weather events. Homelessness is an emergency every day but when temperatures drop below freezing, it’s life or death.

“The level of services available throughout the state has varied widely, which is dangerous and unacceptable.  Statewide standards have been desperately needed to ensure the safety and well-being of our neighbors who need shelter, especially in extreme weather. We thank the co-sponsors of this bill, Assemblymen Land and Andrzejczak and Senator Van Drew, and the homelessness prevention advocates who fought to prevent anyone from being left out in the cold.”

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness Receives Social Outreach Grant

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness received a $1,500 Social Outreach grant from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton for the purchase of Out of State birth Certificates for individuals in Trenton/Mercer County with a history of homelessness.

Frank A. Cirillo, executive director of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, said the funds would be used to support programming to ending homelessness in the Trenton/Mercer community. “The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is honored and excited to have been awarded a $1,500 grant from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton to help fund this much needed service.

The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness developed the concept of an ID project as part of its planning for the Coordinated Entry and Assessment System (CEASe). This was done with its system partners; the County of Mercer Department of Human Services, the City of Trenton, Department of Health and Human Services and the Mercer County Board of Social Services. The CEASe system was developed to provide a systemic approach to serving the needs of the single homeless population in the Trenton/Mercer community. The goal of the system is to move individuals to housing as quickly as possible; thus ending their homelessness.

The ID project is based on the knowledge that many individuals have lost their identification while they have been homeless. These include birth certificates and social security cards. These documents are essential for any housing search whether the individual pursues housing on their own or is assisted by case managers. All applications for housing vouchers, whether Federal or State, require ID. All subsidized housing, Senior Housing and Housing Authority applications require ID.

The Mercer Alliance developed the process for obtaining local, State and Out of State ID’s. The Alliance used consultants (formerly homeless individuals) to implement this process.

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. 

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 62% 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 79% 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 homelessness, and to ensure that individuals and families experiencing homelessness are rapidly rehoused and can access the necessary resources and services to succeed.  Our census data indicates there were still 201 homeless families and 1443 homeless individuals in the Trenton/Mercer area in 2016.

The Mercer Alliance is extremely grateful that the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton has recognized the value of supporting its ID initiative through the generosity of their grant funding.

Sharing the Center on Budget Housing Policy News

2017 Funding

In a new blog, Doug Rice explains that a recent HUD letter indicates that PHAs will likely have to eliminate vouchers for 55,000 low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities if policymakers renew Housing Choice Vouchers for the rest of fiscal year 2017 at the average funding level that the House and Senate appropriations committees approved last summer. Even worse, 135,000 vouchers will disappear if policymakers extend the current freeze on voucher funds for the rest of the year.

Whether Congress includes an increase in 2017 voucher renewal funds probably won’t be clear until the week of April 24, when policymakers return from a two-week recess to wrap up the final 2017 funding bill. 

Separately, the Trump Administration has requested that Congress cut $18 billion from non-defense domestic programs in 2017, relative to the agreed-upon spending level established by the Budget Control Act. The proposed cuts include $1.7 billion in reductions to HUD programs (primarily Community Development Block Grants).  The Administration has proposed these cuts to partly offset its requests for $3 billion in additional funds for immigration actions (including a Mexican border wall) and a $25 billion increase in defense funding for 2017.  Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the proposed cuts, and early indications are that they are likely to ignore them in finalizing 2017 appropriations.

2018 Funding

In a new analysis, CBPP’s Isaac Shapiro and other Budget team colleagues find that “President Trump’s “skinny” budget would eliminate four discretionary block grants that mainly serve low-income people [including CDBG and HOME], and set the stage for substantial cuts to others. As a result, it would reduce overall funding for block grants for low- and moderate-income people that are “discretionary” (or annually appropriated) programs by half or more just between 2017 and 2018.”  Even if Congress declines to go along with these proposed cuts, they underscore the danger of block-granting social programs, as policymakers may again propose for Medicaid and possibly for SNAP.
 
Vouchers Work
 
Starting today, we’re explaining the value and effectiveness of Housing Choice Vouchers in our “Vouchers Work” blog series.  In twice-weekly posts over seven weeks,  we’ll provide the latest facts and figures about the Housing Choice Voucher program, the largest rental assistance program to help families with children, working people, seniors, and people with disabilities afford decent, stable housing.
 
Today’s blog provides an overview of the HCV program and who it serves, including updated demographic data for 2016.  In subsequent posts, we’ll dig more into what the voucher program accomplishes.  The series will be available on a new Vouchers Work page soon.