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Posted on: June 15, 2016


(Passaic County, NJ) -- The Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders received several grants that aim to provide housing and other services to homeless and senior citizens, all without using county taxpayer dollars.

“While no amount of homelessness is ideal, the percentage of people who are homeless in New Jersey has been going down. And, Passaic County has a lower average homeless rate than the State.” said Freeholder Director TJ Best. “Passaic County has a proven track record of protecting services, while finding outside funding that keeps county taxes down.”

Passaic County was awarded a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in the amount of $1,580, 846, which is to be used specifically for housing projects for the homeless. The Freeholders also received $1,000 from the State Department of Health for senior nutrition services, and received another grant from the NJ Division of Family Development for $432,760 to increase funding for Intensive Case Management Services (ICM) for high risk participants, which often consist of homeless residents. The Freeholders also received a grant from the State Division of Social Services for the Homeless in the amount of $1,477,780, and a grant from the Division of Family Development for TANF Transportation in the amount of $404,914. This brings the total amount of grants received in the last 30 days to $3,897,300.

According to the 2015 NJ Counts report, which is an annual count of the homeless in the communities throughout New Jersey, Passaic County counted 459 persons in 320 households that were experiencing homelessness on the night of the count, which accounted for 4.5% of New Jersey’s total homeless population counted. This number includes families and individuals who were both sheltered, meaning they were staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program on the night of the count, as well as those who were unsheltered, or living on the streets. The unsheltered homeless population tend to have a higher rate of disease, victimization, and mental illness. The funds from the grant given to the county will target people who are living on the streets in dangerous and unhealthy conditions.

Intensive Case Management (ICM) Services provides closely supervised, directed job search activities and case management assistance to participants. The case managers develop a relationship with the participants, with the aim of identifying the obstacles preventing a person from obtaining and holding a full time job, including evaluating whether the participant needs mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse or medical evaluation referral. These services are paid through state grant funds.

The grant from the State Division of Social Services for the Homeless is to be used for emergency assistance. When people lose their home and are in the process of relocating, these funds provide temporary food and housing assistance as they get back on their feet. The grant from the Division of family Development is to be used for TANF transportation. These funds will be directed towards people or families with children that have applied for assistance with the Board of Social Services. The Board of Social Services requires all participants to either earn their GED or receive job training. The funds from this grant will be used to transport these people to their educational and job training locations.

“We made a commitment to pursue outside funding, so that we can provide these services without raising taxes.” said Freeholder Sandi Lazzara, who is also the Chair of the Human Services Committee. “My heart goes out these people, but this investment is smart because every homeless or under-employed person that gets a job becomes a productive member of our community.”

While the homeless are often the neediest of our people, senior citizens who don’t have the ability to work need assistance as well, to maintain a budget and stay healthy. The Passaic County Freeholders received another State grant for provisions to implement a senior farmers’ market nutrition program. The mini-grant of $1,000 will be used to hire a part time nutritionist, and 3 part time information assistants during summer season to aid seniors in finding affordable and healthy food.

“Many of our senior citizens who can no longer work rely on government services to make ends meet,” said Freeholder Terry Duffy, who is also the Chair of the Health Committee. “Providing them this service will help them live their lives healthier and with more independence.”

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