Housing First Collaborative moves in first 3 clients

Representatives from the Housing First Collaborative and volunteers from Bethany Grace Community Church celebrate the new home of Oscar, one of the first Housing First clients and Bridgeton Code Blue guests.(

BRIDGETON — Robin Weinstein, President of the M25 Initiative and Convener of the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative, recently announced that the collaborative moved their first three clients from the streets into permanent supportive housing on June 12.

"This was an exciting day that was three years in the making as we could give apartment keys to three chronically homeless individuals," said Weinstein. "A key to their own apartment not only opens the door for shelter, but the doors of opportunity as well. This is a team-based effort from the collaborative and members of the community who have shared their time, talents, and resources on behalf of our homeless neighbors."

The collaborative has received a major grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs which provides 42 housing vouchers that are being used to find homes for Cumberland County’s chronically homeless individuals. This Housing First Collaborative removes these individuals as repetitive users of the Inspira and other health services, the correctional system, and other service organizations and substantially reduces the financial and programmatic burdens that are habitually placed on these providers by the chronically homeless.

As part of the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative’s mission to end homelessness in the county by 2020, they are inviting faith-based institutions, companies, and community groups and organizations to participate by "Adopting-A-Homeless Person."

"The concept behind this program is to help our homeless clients by providing the essentials for their new home," said Weinstein, president of the M25 Initiative. "Our clients are chronically homeless and do not have anything. While the collaborative can provide housing, we need the assistance of others to provide the household items. By participating in this program, organizations can help provide a community of support to our homeless neighbors as they get their lives back on the right footing."

Organizations and community groups would work with the collaborative to collect household items for individuals as they move off the streets into permanent housing. An optional component is that they can provide an on-going supportive community to the clients through mentoring and fellowship.

"This is basically about throwing a Welcome Home Housewarming and Move-In party for our clients," said Weinstein. "Groups that are interested in participating will be given a list of the client needs and a tentative date for move-in and they are then responsible to collect the items for our clients. Once the Move-In Day happens, the group will help move the client into his or her new home. This is a great way to make a difference in someone’s life — by providing them a home."

The collaborative has prepared an informational brochure on the items that are needed for the "Welcome Home" kits, as well as answers to frequently asked questions. The brochure can be viewed at www.endhomelessness2020.com and selecting "Get Involved" or it can be mailed by calling 1-844-M25-HOPE. Interested parties can sign-up on the website as well.

The Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative (CCHFC) is a consortium of social service organizations, faith-based institutions, and government officials committed to tackling the problem of chronic homelessness in Cumberland County. The guiding agency of this collaborative is the M25 Initiative, a nonprofit organization based in Bridgeton, which also facilitates the grassroots Cumberland County Code Blue Coalition. The other partners of the collaborative include Gateway Community Action Partnership, PRAC of Southern New Jersey, Resources for Independent Living, and CompelteCare. The collaborative is operating in partnership with the Cumberland County Jail, Inspira Health Network, and Monarch Housing.

This item submitted by Rob Weinstein for the M25 Initiative.

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