County in New Jersey First In Nation To End Chronic Homelessness
Bergen County has been certified as the first “community” in the nation to end chronic homelessness.
The announcement was made by county and federal officials at the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center – which officials called integral in achieving the milestone.
“By securing safe, permanent housing for individuals who were chronically homeless, we’re providing these most vulnerable residents with the stability they need to address other challenges that have limited their ability to prosper in our communities.” said County Executive James J. Tedesco.
While the county is still tackling the issue of family and youth homelessness, they have eradicated homelessness among people with disabilities and other complex needs also known as chronic homelessness.
In August, the county celebrated as they became the first community in the state to eliminate homelessness among veterans, certified by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In January of 2015, the county counted 28 persons experiencing chronic homelessness. A year later that number was reduced to 10. Since May 1016, the county has counted less than three people that were chronically homeless.
“This is a proof point for us in the federal government and across the nation,”Ann Oliva, HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for special needs, said at the event. “It is the proof point to show that we can put an end to chronic homelessness.”
The county decided to tackle homelessness in 2009 with the $11 million Housing, Health and Human Services Center, a one-stop shop where homeless residents could spend the night, receive help with health and behavioral issues and get permanent housing assistance.
Tedesco said the housing first approach saves taxpayers money by interrupting a costly cycle of emergency room, hospital, detox, and jail visits.
“Bergen County’s achievement helps demonstrate the strategies necessary for success, including coordinated and proactive outreach and engagement efforts and quick connections to housing,” said Matthew Doherty, USICH’s Executive Director. “These are strategies that we must be able to replicate and adapt at the scale necessary in communities of all sizes in order to end chronic homelessness everywhere in our country.”