Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Call to Action: Addressing the Emergency Assistance Crisis

Dear Alliance Members, Community Partners, and Friends:

I want to share with you a disturbing update on the state of the social services safety net in our state and on one vital program in particular: Emergency Assistance (EA).  EA benefits are one of the most critical elements of our state’s homelessness prevention efforts by providing housing and shelter-related resources that provide safe haven and support for individuals and families who are homeless and helps individuals and families with the most limited income resources from sliding into the chaos and trauma of homelessness. EA prevents parents and their children and individuals from living on the streets or in abandoned buildings and can provide stable housing for up to 12 months so that the recipients can secure viable, permanent alternatives.  It is a vital tool for the individuals and families of many of the partner agencies of Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness – and it keeps many more from becoming reliant on long term public assistance in the first place.

In the last year and a half, the State has tightened EA eligibility, taken decision-making away from local county welfare agency workers, and appear to have issued nonsensical and contradictory reasons for EA denials — often claiming that individuals and families have “caused their own homelessness” or “failed to plan adequately” when often the individuals and families are victims of abuse or other unforeseeable tragedy that could not have been anticipated, let alone planned for. The state reports that in just the past year, 40% fewer individuals and families have been approved for emergency benefits. Take particular note of the word “approved.” No agency, no watchdog group, no one is reporting that poverty or any of its indicators have declined by that amount. The need for EA services as a vital tool to combat homelessness has not changed, so this 40% cut in approvals is simply denying help to desperate people. In fact, these nonsensical budget cuts are having the exact opposite effect of what they state is happening; adding to the lines at the door of, and calls to, agencies like HomeFront and the Rescue Mission of Trenton.

In his FY2017 budget, Governor Christie proposes further reductions in EA — $58 million dollars less than FY2015, before the EA cuts began.  These short-sighted cuts would prevent individuals and families in desperate need from accessing the assistance they require to maintain housing, would have a ripple effect on other safety net programs as individuals and families struggle to make ends meet.  We have already seen a devastating impact on the social services community in New Jersey, with budgets that were tight to begin with stretched to the breaking point.  Some sister programs around the state have begun to close, including some even here in Mercer County.

The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is participating in efforts led by the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey to restore the more inclusive interpretation of eligibility and urge the NJ State Legislature to revise the budget to restore funding for EA to FY2015 levels.  Over the last several decades, the State of New Jersey has successfully built the EA program to prevent residents from becoming homeless and to avoid the downward spiral that losing housing precipitates.  The proposed cuts to EA would mean more individuals and families on the streets and the agencies that have previously met their needs shuttering their doors.  The cost to society and the State to repair these broken lives and damaged safety net system would be significant; much more than funding EA at the proper level.  We invite you to join us in the fight to protect this important program and contact your State Legislators to urge them to support restoring $58 million in EA funding in this year’s State budget and preserve this vital program.

NJ State Legislature – Mercer County

District 14 – (Mercer and Middlesex)
Cranbury, East Windsor, Hamilton (Mercer), Hightstown, Jamesburg, Monroe (Middlesex), Plainsboro, Robbinsville, Spotswood

Senator  Linda R. Greenstein – 1249 South River Rd., Suite 105, Cranbury, NJ 08512
Phone: (609) 395-9911

Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson – 3691A Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square, NJ 08690
Phone: (609) 631-0198

Assemblyman Wayne P. DeAngelo – 4621A Nottingham Way, Hamilton, NJ 08690
Phone: (609) 631-7501

District 15 – (Hunterdon and Mercer)
East Amwell, Ewing, Hopewell Borough (Mercer), Hopewell Township (Mercer), Lambertville, Lawrence (Mercer), Pennington, Trenton, West Amwell, West Windsor

Senator Shirley K. Turner – 1230 Parkway Ave., Suite 103, Ewing Twp., NJ 08628
Phone: (609) 323-7239

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora – 144 West State St., Trenton, NJ 08608
Phone: (609) 571-9638

Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher Muoio – 144 West State St., Trenton, NJ 08608
Phone: (609) 571-9638

District 16 – (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)
Branchburg, Delaware, Flemington, Hillsborough, Manville, Millstone (Somerset), Montgomery, Princeton, Raritan (Hunterdon), Readington, Rocky Hill, Somerville, South Brunswick, Stockton

Senator Christopher Bateman – 36 East Main St., Somerville, NJ 08876
Phone: (908) 526-3600

Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli – 50 Division St., Suite 200, Somerville, NJ 08876
Phone: (908) 450-7064

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker – 23 Orchard Road, Suite 170, Skillman, NJ 08558
Phone: (609) 454-3147

Additional Legislators can be found by using this link: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp

Mercer 1st county in N.J. to end veterans homelessness by year end
By Cristina Rojas | For NJ.com

Mercer County has reached its goal to house every homeless veteran seeking help by the end of the year, becoming the latest community to answer the nationwide challenge issued by first lady Michelle Obama.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes announced the milestone Wednesday and said the county is the first in New Jersey to do so.

“The challenge was to put a fire under this thing and that’s exactly what we did,” he said.

Hughes and Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson officially accepted Obama’s challenge in November, but officials first began tackling the issue in January through a group effort with the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, veteran groups and nonprofit homeless agencies.


Veterans Homelessness Ended in Trenton/Mercer in 2015

Trenton vows to end veterans homelessness by year end

Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson officially accepted first lady Michelle Obama’s Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness

 


There were 79 homeless veterans in the county when the initiative began.

The partners came up with a methodology to identify all veterans by name and created a shared list to make sure that no one fell through the cracks. Vets were then screened, prioritized and linked to the housing and supportive services they needed.

Of the 79 veterans, there are only two who are not in permanent housing. Housing is available to them, but they have declined for undisclosed reasons, county spokeswoman Julie Willmot said.

That means the county and city have achieved what is called “functional zero” and are committed to ensuring that homelessness among veterans is brief, rare and non-recurring.

“Somebody that is not homeless today might be homeless tomorrow,” Hughes said. “If they’re a veteran, we want to keep them as a high-priority target and make sure that we don’t just walk away from the essential and critical goal that the first lady set out.”

He said the county has long used a “housing first” strategy, which prioritizes getting people into permanent housing and then surrounding them with the services they need such as substance abuse or mental health counseling.

“We think that housing is the key element to really addressing this problem and making sure that people have a road to a better future,” Hughes said.

Housing resources include public housing authorities, senior housing, Section 8 Housing and other county and city resources.

Hughes said the Coordinated Entry and Assessment Services, the one-stop center that opened on Perry Street this April to focus on the chronically homeless, has been critical in helping the partners reach their goal.

“You have a group of people who work on homelessness issues, on housing issues, on making sure those wraparound services exist,” he said.

Cristina Rojas may be reached at crojas@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaRojasTT. Find The Times of Trenton on Facebook.

Trenton/Mercer Plan to End Veteran Homelessness
Mayors Challenge Logo

On November 10, 2015 at 10:30 a.m., please join Mayor Eric E. Jackson and Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes for the official “answer the call” of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015 and for the unveiling of the Trenton/Mercer Plan to End Homelessness. The event will be held at the new Coordinated Entry and Assessment Services (CEAS) Center located at 509 Perry Street, in Trenton.

The bold initiative outlined in the Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness is endorsed by the Secretary of HUD, leaders across the Veterans Administration (VA), the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USISCH) and the National League of Cities for mayors, county leaders and governors to commit to ending veteran homeliness by 2015.

The City of Trenton and the County of Mercer is proud to be among the 850 leaders around the county to answer the call and more importantly work with a team of dedicated veteran housing providers and community leaders to ensure now and in the future that no veteran will remain homeless in our community.

Please R.S.V.P. you attendance by emailing Nixsa Santiago at or by calling (609) 989-3339 by November 6th. See you on the 10th!