ELIZABETH, NJ — The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless announced on Monday, March 27, the launch of its 50/50 campaign to develop 50 housing units for homeless citizens in Union County in the next five years.
“Homelessness and the social disorder it causes fray at the fabric of our society,” said Jeffrey Crum, president of the Board of Directors of the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. “It erodes our economic effectiveness as a community.”
Linda M. Flores-Tober, executive director for the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, said in a press release that the organization would use grants, in addition to state and federal funds, to purchase and renovate properties throughout Union County for the initiative.
“The coalition has been providing housing and services to the most vulnerable in our society for over 30 years,” Flores-Tober said. “We work to ensure we are good neighbors and that our homes are well cared for.”
Flores-Tober said according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Union County is $1,606.
“To afford $1,606 a month in rent, a person would need an income of $60,000,” he said. “For context, the starting salary for a teacher in New Jersey is $55,000.”
Crum spoke about the net benefit of providing housing and social services to people in Union County.
“Oftentimes, the homeless end up in shelters or hospitals at a staggering cost to the taxpayers,” he said. “The coalition’s approach is proven to be a more effective and affordable solution. Providing persons in need with safe, decent affordable housing and social services is a cost-effective solution to homelessness.”
Flores-Tober discussed how those who experience homelessness have drastically changed in the last few years in the U.S.
“The face of homelessness has changed over the years, to the point where it now includes persons working full-time, families with two incomes, as well as the disabled and seniors,” he said. “The program would be open to individuals, couples and families and is an extension of the organization’s successful housing and service’s program.”
He went on to discuss homelessness from a moral and human standpoint, pointing out how many people have run into or personally know someone who is unhoused.
“It is no stretch of the imagination to suggest that, on a regular if not daily basis, we all interact with a homeless person,” Flores-Tober said. “They are working in our supermarkets, restaurants, schools and hospitals. We need to ensure that these individuals who are so valuable to our community and economy have safe and affordable housing.”
The coalition anticipates developing 10 units per year. For more information on the coalition, visit theelizabethcoalition.org.