Homeless become more visible

Annual count takes place later this month

Last week, the temperatures in Hudson County were so low that homeless people who showed up at shelters in Jersey City and Hoboken were bused to the third shelter in the county, the PERC Shelter in Union City.
The buses were commissioned by the United Way of Hudson County. The transfer occurs when the Hudson County Office of Emergency Management sees that the temperature has fallen to 24 degrees or lower and the two other shelters in the county – St. Lucy’s in Jersey City with 80 beds and the Hoboken Shelter in Hoboken with 50 beds – are full.
Brian Poffel, the director of development for PERC, said the dining room at the shelter was opened, which adds 40 spaces to the 40 beds that already exist there. The dining room operates as an emergency center for the county.


The Point-In-Time Count of homeless people will be conducted locally this year on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

An annual survey of the homeless that is coming up later this month will help federal and state authorities determine how much grant money to give to local agencies, organizations, and shelters that deal with the homeless.

Making everyone count

The Point-In-Time Count, as it is known, will be conducted this year on Wednesday Jan. 27 by social service workers, volunteers, and homeless advocates, who are part of the Hudson County Alliance to End Homelessness (HCAEH).
The count, part of a statewide Point-in-Time, is done to tally the number of unsheltered homeless families and individuals on one day. It is an effort that every two years coincides with the biennial homeless census mandated by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The information from this year’s count, based on a survey completed by those who are homeless, will be submitted to the state and eventually the federal government.
Last year, Hudson County tallied 1,779 homeless men, women, and children who fit the federal government’s definition of homelessness, including individuals living in shelters or places not meant for human habitation. But the 2009 Point-In-Time Report for Hudson County states that “the actual number of people who are homeless over the course of the year may be between two to four times larger than the number counted at one point in time.”
According to Jacob DeLemos, project director for Housing Assistance for the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development, there were 730 counted on the day of the Point-in-Time last year. But another 1,049 were included in the homeless count who were receiving temporary rental assistance from Hudson County.
In fact, the numbers have fluctuated over the years. The 2008 count tallied 2,227 men, women, and children as homeless, while in 2007 there were 2,842 counted.
Discrepancies occur depending on the time of day, the weather, and criteria used.
But one thing is for certain: the numbers from the homeless count lead to federal funding. In December, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) granted $2.9 million to 10 homeless assistance programs in Hudson County. That included the Jersey City-based nonprofit WomenRising, which received the largest award of $644,268 for its “Project Home” transitional housing program that serves 18 families at a time.

Connecting with the homeless

Besides the Point-In-Time count on Jan. 27, there is also an annual gathering the same day known as Project Homeless Connect (PHC). In the one-day, one-stop event, various sectors of the Hudson County community make food, clothing, and various services available to the homeless.
This year’s location is the Bergenview Community Center, 654 Bergen Ave. in Jersey City, site of the old YMCA building.
Project Homeless Connect also allows volunteers to survey the homeless who come to the event.
In a related issue, the U.S. Census will carry out its own survey of all residents starting in March and will include the homeless.
Jacob DeLemos said he met with Bayonne and Hoboken officials recently who are coordinating the census in those towns and gave them his recommendations about how to include the homeless.
“My recommendations were to work with the shelters, soup kitchens, and other providers who deal directly with the homeless,” DeLemos said.

Where to go or volunteer

People who want to volunteer for the Point-in-Time Count can contact Susan Milan of the Jersey City Episcopal Community Development Corporation at (201) 604-2600 or smilan@jcecdc.org .
Hudson County’s three shelters are:
PERC (Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation), 108 36th St. in Union City, (201) 348-8150.
ST. LUCY’S SHELTER – 619 Grove St. in Jersey City, (201) 656-7201.
HOBOKEN SHELTER – 300 Bloomfield St. in Hoboken, (201) 656-5069.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com.

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