Category Archives: Latest Alliance News

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.

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness Receives Community Foundation Grant

Trenton, New Jersey – Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness received a $21,125 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, in support of working to end homelessness in Greater Trenton though its Housing First and Rapid Rehousing programs. Funds will be used to provide safety net services and to develop strategies to stabilize the availability of shelter and permanent housing.

Frank A. Cirillo, executive director of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, said the funds would be used to support initiatives to prevent and end homelessness in the Trenton/Mercer community, and advance state-wide strategies to stabilize short-term shelter, and fund permanent housing solutions to end homelessness. “The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is honored and excited to have been awarded a generous $21,125 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation to support its efforts to stabilize short term shelter in Mercer County, and advocate for state-wide solutions to fund a safety net for individuals and families who become homeless. This includes the development and funding of rapid permanent housing policies for the homeless,” said Cirillo. “Shelters should be safe-havens with no barriers to access, and should be used as a short-term safety net within a system whose goal is permanent housing,” said Cirillo. “Housing First and Rapid Rehousing policies should be adopted as State policy. The goal of moving families and individuals as quickly as possible into housing is the Federal direction. It is both humane and cost effective. We need to explore all possible funding options to make these policies a reality, particularly in the challenging years ahead.”

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 Point in Time statics indicate 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 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation has recognized the value of supporting its 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.

#NJCounts 2017 Reaches Out to Homeless Families, Individuals, Youth and Veterans

NJCounts 2017

On January 25th, 2017  homeless service providers and volunteers conducted a count of homeless individuals and families in Mercer County as part of the #NJCounts 2017. This count provides a snapshot of the scope of homelessness in our community and across the nation and is vital to assessing need and leveraging resources to prevent and end homelessness.   Click here​ to read the full article. 

In Case You Missed It…

This week at CBPP, we focused on health care, the federal budget and taxes, state budgets and taxes, and food assistance.

  • On health care, Matt Broaddus and Edwin Park highlighted the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s historic coverage gains.  Our state-by-state interactive illustrated how ACA repeal would undermine these gains and leave many more uninsured.  Sarah Lueck explained that the Republican approach to repeal means millions will lose pre-existing condition protections.  Anna Bailey noted that despite the newly signed Cures Act, Medicaid remains the major source of funding for states to treat mental illness and substance use disorders.  Shelby Gonzales reminded consumers to enroll in marketplace plans for coverage that starts on January 1.
  • On the federal budget and taxes, Richard Kogan and David Reich found that House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price’s proposals to change the budget process would harm key programs aimed at moderate- and low-income families and favor tax breaks for the wealthy.  Chye-Ching Huang and Paul Van de Water used new Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center data to show that millionaires would receive most of the tax cuts from repealing the ACA.  Chloe Cho’s state-by-state look at repealing the estate tax demonstrated that only the wealthiest few Americans would benefit.  We excerpted Jared Bernstein’s Washington Post op-ed listing why policymakers shouldn’t cut taxes.
  • On state budgets and taxes, Elizabeth McNichol analyzed how states can use tax policy to stop increasing inequality and start reducing it, and our state-by-state fact sheets reveal the striking concentration of incomes among the wealthiest residents in every state. 
  • On food assistance, Dottie Rosenbaum and Ed Bolen explained why reports claiming the alleged success of reimposing a three-month time limit on SNAP in Kansas and Maine are misleading.

Chart of the week: Large Coverage Gains Under Affordable Care Act

A variety of news outlets featured CBPP’s work and experts recently. Here are some highlights:

Why Trump Should Strengthen the Housing Voucher Program
Huffington Post
December 16, 2016

The stealth attack on the social safety net will come through boring budget processes
Daily Kos
December 14, 2016

Why even the strongest Republican efforts can’t defeat the welfare state
Washington Post
December 12, 2016

Surprise! Obamacare Repeal Includes a Stealth Tax Cut For Top Earners
Talking Points Memo
December 9, 2016

What Would It Take to Replace the Pay Working-Class Americans Have Lost?
New York Times
December 9, 2016

The above information was provided by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in an email.

How State Policymakers Can Decrease Income Inequality

Over the last 35 years, income gains in the American economy have accrued largely to the richest households, while many middle- and lower-income Americans haven’t shared in the nation’s growing prosperity.

In a new paper from CBPP, we explain how this income disparity has reduced opportunities for working people striving to get ahead and weakened our overall economy. Choices by state policymakers can make can make matters worse or improve them.

As Elizabeth McNichol writes:

“Virtually all states collect more taxes from moderate- and lower-income families, as a share of their income, than high-income families. This increases inequality by reducing after-tax incomes more deeply among low- and middle-income families than high-income families.”

State policymakers have numerous tools to ensure that high-income earners pay their fair share and lower-income earners don’t face increased tax responsibility. These include expanding taxes on inherited wealth, strengthening taxes on corporations, and enacting state earned income tax credits.  They should take these steps to make sure everyone benefits from economic prosperity.

Read the Report

Download the PDF (23pp)

The above information was provided by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in an email.

Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service

Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service
Wednesday, December 21, 201 6
Turning Point United Methodist church, l5 South Broad Street, Trenton. NJ
10:00 -1 I :00 am – Service
Clifford A. Goldman
Board Chairman

December 5,2016 Trenton, NJ – on Wednesday, December 21,2016,at 10 am, at Turning point United Methodist Church, the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness and Turning Point United Methodist Church will host a Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service. This event is held in conjunction with the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day traditionally held on December 2lst, the day with the least amount of daylight and the longest period of darkness.

All Mercer Counly homeless people who died in the last year as a result of their lack of shelter or care will be remembered at this time’ People are invited to take time out and reflect on the tragic loss of these individuals. Local clergy will participate. The service will include readings, prayers, and names of individuals who experienced homelessness and died this past year.

The Mercer Alliance, working with local homeless providers and homeless individuals gathered information on individuals who died while living on the street or in emergency shelter, as well as ildividuals who died while living in transitional or permanent housing for the formerly homeless, People are welcome to bring names of friends or family members who experienced homelessness that have died in the past year to be remembered.

Advocates and individuals experiencing homelessness are expected to attend this service, which .will reflect on theie lives of those who died while homeless and will highlight the Mercer Alliance’s and the community’s continuing commitment towards ending homelessne ss. ” During this Holiday Season we ask ever.yone to ramentber thut individuals and.families are experiencing homelessness in America and Mercer C’ounty andwe
need to continue to.lbcus on ending homelessne,s’s”, said Frank Cirillo, Executive Director of Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness.

For additional information contact Frank Cirillo of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness at (609-599-9762 or Frank Cirillo c/o

President-elect Trump Nominates Dr. Carson

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Dr. Ben Carson to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
 
We are eager to work with the Trump Administration and Dr. Carson to create more opportunities for Americans to access affordable housing, and to ensure the most vulnerable individuals and families in need of supportive housing are housed in their own homes and healthy.
 
Our economic future depends on finding sustainable ways to ensure everyone, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, age, family status or income, can access and afford safe, decent rental housing. Not only is this crucial today, but for our children and grandchildren too.
 
For those in need of supportive housing, their very lives depend on finding stable homes with access to the healthcare and other services that offer them the chance to move forward with independence and purpose, which benefits everyone in the community. In too many instances, our nation continues to over-rely on expensive institutional care that inadequately houses and fails to address the needs of the most vulnerable people, shortchanging them and the rest of us. Supportive housing is a proven, cost-effective alternative that empowers individuals and families to thrive within our communities.
 
Evidence tells us housing is a key social determinant of health for individuals and communities alike, and CSH will continue to work with policymakers at all levels to enhance and increase the integration of housing and healthcare.
 
CSH will be in the forefront of ensuring the new Administration and Congress have the extensive data, reports and personal stories demonstrating beyond question that supportive housing works, is cost-effective, holds down healthcare and public safety costs, revitalizes neighborhoods, and creates jobs and economic development, making a real difference in communities across this country.
 
As Dr. Carson begins his transition to HUD, we stand ready to join with him to expand on the progress supportive housing has made for nearly 40 years.

Deborah De Santis
President and CEO
CSH

The above information was provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing in an email, December 8th.

Nearly 30 Million People Would Lose Health Insurance Under ACA Repeal

Nearly 30 million people would lose their health insurance coverage if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed, data from the Urban Institute show. We have published fact sheets showing the number of people who would lose coverage and the loss of related federal funding in each state.

Republican policymakers plan to move quickly in January to repeal much of the health reform law without enacting a replacement. This would cause families across the country to go without needed health care and expose them to financial risk.

Most of the coverage loss would occur among families with at least one worker and among people without college degrees, doubling the number of uninsured and leaving a higher share of people uninsured than before the ACA

States would lose significant federal funds. Even states that didn’t expand Medicaid would see declines in federal spending as eligible people fall off the program. The growth in the number of uninsured residents would increase demand for uncompensated care by $1.1 trillion between 2019 and 2028.

Repealing the ACA without putting in place an adequate replacement plan that ensures affordable coverage would more than double the total number of uninsured to 58.7 million people, greater than the number who were uninsured prior to enactment of the ACA. 

Read the Fact Sheets

Read Judy Solomon’s Analysis of the Urban Data

The above information was provided by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in an email, December 7th.

2016 Point in Time Report

Below you will find a link to the  2016 Point in Time Report just released by the USIACH. 

Nationally, there’s been a 3% reduction in homelessness compared to a 23% reduction in Mercer.   The USIACH reports that family homelessness across the country decreased by 5% since 2015 , whereas family homelessness in Mercer decreased by 18% since 2015.

Continuing to Drive Progress in Ending Homelessness

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point-in-Time count results, reporting steady reductions in homelessness between 2010 and 2016. We’ll provide a more detailed analysis of this data in the weeks ahead, but in the meantime, we encourage everyone to:  

Read the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, Part I.

Read HUD’s press release about the Point-in-Time data.

Remarks from Executive Director Matthew Doherty on the 2016 Point-in-Time Count Data

At the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness we find this data, on the whole, very encouraging. We’ve steadily reduced homelessness since

Opening Doors was launched in 2010. The arrows are pointing in the right direction. But we can and must do even better.

About the Data

First, I want to offer a few thoughts about what this specific data helps us understand. This data in this report is based on data gathered and submitted by communities across the country through their local counts.

Such point-in-time data provides us with a snapshot of the estimated number and demographics of people who are experiencing homelessness at a given point of time – in this case, from about 11 months ago, January 2016.

This data helps to estimate how much day-to-day capacity we need within our homelessness crisis response systems. And it also helps us assess the impact of our strategic activities up until that point.

But it is not the only data that we consider, and it is not the only data that communities should use to guide the strategic decisions and tailor the interventions that we need to end homelessness.

We also need to consider sources of annualized data that help us understand the number of people who experience homelessness or housing instability over the course of a year. Such data helps paint a more complete picture of the state of homelessness and housing needs in our country.

There are a couple of key sources of such data:

  • Last month, HUD released part II of its 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress based upon Homeless Management Information System data, which documents the number of people who experience homelessness in shelters over the course of the year. This data showed that between 2014 and 2015, the number of people experiencing sheltered homelessness at some point during the reporting year remained roughly the same, declining by less than 1%.
     
  • For understanding the scope and scale of homelessness among youth and families with children, we also closely consider the data gathered by schools for the Department of Education. This annualized data documents the number of children enrolled in public schools who are identified as experiencing homelessness at some point during the school year – including children who are living in shelters or who are unsheltered – and also includes children who may be staying in motels or in doubled-up arrangements. This data showed an 8% increase between the 2013 and 2014 school years, and we’ll be looking closely at what the 2015 data tells us.

I would encourage you to spend some time with all of those data sets, and reach out to us if you would like to talk through this data.

 What’s Working

I want to offer a few thoughts on some of the strategies that have driven our progress to date, specifically three key elements that I think have had a huge impact:

First, we set ambitious goals and asked leaders to publicly commit to them. For example, the Mayors Challenge has helped to drive the remarkable 47% reduction in Veteran homelessness, including a 17% reduction during 2015 alone. And we now have the opportunity to take the proof of what is possible for Veterans and apply those lessons and strategies to ending homelessness for people with disabilities, for families with children, for youth – for everyone.

Second, we provided clear guidance and direction on what it takes to succeed, equipping communities with a full array of strategies and tools to help them implement the best practices. For example, HUD’s technical assistance efforts have helped communities to use resources more effectively, to embrace the strongest models, and to use data to drive their decision making. And communities are moving beyond using not just point-in-time estimates to having real-time information about people experiencing homelessness at any given time – who they are, what their needs are, who is working with them.

Third, by embracing Housing First approaches, federal agencies are making sure that federal dollars have the greatest impact and improves outcomes for people. Programs are removing unnecessary obstacles and barriers, helping people get into permanent housing as quickly as possible, and providing them with essential services to be successful.

The Work Ahead

But our work is clearly not done, so I also wanted to talk about a few of the things we need to be urgently focusing on in the months and years ahead to pick up the pace of our progress.

We must increase the supply of affordable housing. We must continue to target and prioritize existing affordable housing to people exiting homelessness, but we must also take steps to increase the overall supply of housing units within our communities. Jurisdictions need to remove local barriers to housing development that have reduced the ability of many housing markets to respond to growing demand. And we must invest in new affordable housing across all levels of government. 

We must continue to improve connections to mainstream programs and employment services and opportunities. To both prevent homelessness, and to ensure the success and stability of people who are experiencing or have exited homelessness, we must do more to connect people to health and social services, and to integrate employment services and opportunities into our housing and services systems.

And finally, we must maintain partnerships at all levels of government.To sustain the progress we’ve made to date, we must continue to pursue a collaborative approach across federal, state, and local government. And we must sustain our investments into the strategies and programs that are working, knowing that our communities must have lasting systems that are poised to respond to crisis every day.

As always, we thank you for your dedication to making sure every American has a safe and stable home.

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness recognized for its role to successfully reduce family homelessness

We are proud to be part of a working community alliance of true professionals dedicated to combating and ending homelessness”, said Executive Director Frank Cirillo.

11-15-16: Hughes to be honored by National Alliance to end Homelessness TRENTON, N.J.—Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes will be honored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness for his leadership in Mercer County’s successful efforts to reduce family homelessness.

Mr. Hughes will receive the award at the national organization’s Annual Awards Ceremony on Nov. 17 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The ceremony, “When a Child Has a Home,” will highlight successes in ending child and family homelessness.

This year’s event will be attended by corporate executives, representatives of Congress and the Administration, and many other committed stakeholders. Organizers said that by recognizing the progress being made across the country, the event seeks to heighten the national conversation on the importance of ending homelessness for children and their families.

“I’m honored to be receiving this award on behalf of everyone who has worked so hard to reduce the number of homeless people in Mercer County,” Mr. Hughes said. “I believe Mercer County can serve as a model for other communities that are looking for proven ways to help some of our most vulnerable neighbors achieve better lives. We could not have achieved this success without our dedicated partners, and I share this award with our colleagues from the City of Trenton, Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, Mercer County Board of Social Services and Catholic Charities.”

By using an approach called Rapid Rehousing, an intervention designed to help individuals and families quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing, Mercer has been able to reduce its number of homeless families by 70 percent. Since 2010, more than 1,000 homeless families have been rapidly rehoused by moving into their own apartments within 54 days of entering the homeless system, Mr. Hughes said. Before the transformation, families were remaining in emergency shelters and transitional housing for up to a year.

“Best of all,” he said, “94 percent of families who have been rapidly rehoused have not become homeless again.”