USICH Visits Newark, New Jersey, and New York City

May 28, 2024
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Last week, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Director Jeff Olivet and USICH Senior Regional Advisor Nichele Carver traveled to Newark, New Jersey, where investments in housing and shelter have reportedly reduced unsheltered homelessness.

The federal team met with people experiencing homelessness as well as Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark Director of Homeless Services Luis Ulerio, and the local transit authority to discuss the local efforts to reduce homelessness and how the federal government can support them. They also attended a roundtable of federal, state, local, and private leaders.

Newark is expanding low-barrier shelter as well as permanent and short-term housing for people experiencing homelessness—all things in low supply across the United States, which is driving the homelessness crisis. Along with local officials, USICH visited the site of a 40-unit affordable housing development being built with low-income housing tax credits; the site of a future 24/7 drop-in center that is being built with funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury; and Hope Village II, newly opened dorm-style housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness while they await permanent housing.

Director Olivet also spoke to the first-ever statewide meeting of Continuums of Care (CoCs) and public housing authorities (PHAs) in New Jersey.

“This is a big deal—PHA and CoCs in the same room,” said USICH Director Olivet. “No other partnership is more important for this work solving homelessness than between PHAs and CoCs. Both agencies are part of a larger whole. PHAs have the units; CoCs have the services to ensure overall housing success. PHAs have a responsibility to serve those without a home; CoCs have people dying on the street for want of an affordable unit.”

From Newark, the USICH team traveled to New York City to visit a privately funded and operated affordable and supportive housing development that opened earlier this year by a community organization that has been serving the region for more than 60 years. It primarily serves people recovering from substance use and/or mental health issues and older adults experiencing unstable housing.

“The Helene M. Marshall Manor underscores what we already know: Philanthropists and the private sector are a critical partner in the efforts to prevent and end homelessness. Government alone cannot solve homelessness, and we must approach this crisis with an all-hands-on-deck attitude,” said Olivet.

Olivet and Carver also met with the housing and service provider WIN to discuss a new pilot program to provide $1,400 a month for two years to 100 single mothers with children under 2 living in New York City shelters. Along with direct cash assistance, each mother will be partnered with a peer specialist who went through the city’s shelter system. Direct cash assistance helped prevent a rise in homelessness between 2020 and 2022 and is being explored across the country as a way to both prevent and help people overcome homelessness.


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