January 29, 2018

Point-in-Time Homeless Count Paterson is New Jersey's third-largest city--and also one of its poorest. Its poverty rate is 29.1%, almost triple the statewide poverty rate of 10.4%, and housing is expensive: a recent study found that Paterson homeowners have the second highest housing cost burden in New Jersey. As a result, homelessness is all too real in Passaic County, especially in Paterson.

Each year, communities across the country conduct the Point-in-Time Count to tally the number of homeless individuals--both sheltered and unsheltered--living in their neighborhoods. These counts help policymakers and program administrators advocate for additional funding for combatting homelessness, and are also important for tracking progress.

Point-in-Time Homeless CountLast year, the Point-in-Time Count reported 8,532 homeless men, women, and children across New Jersey, a decline of 4.6% from the 2016 Count. However, during this time period, homelessness in Passaic County increased by 3.9%.

Earlier this week, on January 24, volunteers and nonprofit staff in each of New Jersey's 21 counties worked tirelessly to conduct this year's Point-in-Time Count and connect the homeless with available services in their communities. In Passaic County, 19 AmeriCorps members worked with volunteers from several nonprofit organizations and government agencies to locate and survey Paterson's homeless population and connect them with the services they desperately need.

NJCDC's AmeriCorps members went to numerous neighborhoods throughout Paterson to count the number of homeless individuals and families who weren't staying in shelters. They also helped the homeless complete surveys, informed them of available services, and provided them with scarves, hats, and gloves, as well as gift cards for food. AmeriCorps member Brionna Foster said, "At first I was very hesitant about the 'Point-In-Time Homeless Count' ... but going out and talking to the homeless people was a great experience for me. I was surprised that these people who I did not know were so receptive to listening to what I had to say, and to agreeing for us to take them to the hospital to get help. I felt like I was able to make a small difference."

Point-in-Time Homeless CountIn addition, during the Count, the annual Project Homeless Connect event was held at Eva's Village. There, our AmeriCorps members joined forces with New Jersey's First Lady Tammy Murphy, state and local elected officials including Mayor Jane Williams-Warren, Senator Nellie Pou, Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter, and Freeholders Assad Akhter and TJ Best, and numerous community nonprofits and volunteers. At the event, Paterson's homeless received food, clothing, haircuts, and outreach materials.

First Lady Tammy Murphy, who visited Point-in-Time Count locations throughout the state, said, "A big THANK YOU to everyone that volunteered their time. The more we work together to ensure safe housing options, the better we serve our communities. Everyone has a right to a safe place to call their home."

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