Newark, NJ the Latest to Join With Cities Across the Country to End Homelessness

by Rich and Elizabeth Lombino August 25, 2010 07:15 AM (PT)

Photo credit: Rich Lombino

Plan to End Homelessness:

Newark, NJ Joins the Movement

The city of Newark, New Jersey has officially joined the movement to end homelessness.

Recently Mayor Cory BookerEssex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and other government officials unveiled The Road Home: A Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness in Newark and Essex County (pdf).

The process to develop this plan began over two years ago with the creation of the Essex-Newark Task Force to End Homelessness and the release last year of that body’s Core Principles (pdf). They’ll be familiar tenets of advocacy to homeless advocates. They include: (1) coordinating services to end homelessness, not manage it; (2) preventing homelessness; (3) adopting a Housing First approach; (4) connecting persons at risk of homelessness to existing services; (5) ensuring an adequate supply of emergency shelter beds; (6) adopting housing policies that end homelessness and are cost effective; and (7) holding themselves accountable for achieving the goals of the plan to be designed.

Well, now the plan has been designed and released and, as expected, it follows the framework outlined in the original core principles. The Corporation for Supportive Housing drafted the plan, which states that “the time is right to transform our homeless response system from one built upon a foundation of emergency and temporary housing to one built upon a foundation of prevention and permanent housing.”

With buzzy phrases including “we must act now” and “housing ends homelessness,” the plan follows the Ten Year Plan model established in 2000 by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The Essex-Newark Plan provides for (1) homelessness prevention; (2) the building of 1,000 new units of permanent supportive housing within five years and 3,000 new units of low-income housing within ten years; (3) coordinating and streamlining services; (4) improving data collection and analysis; (5) empowering residents through employment training and education; and (6) advocating to improve public opinion and eliminate disinformation.

But the Essex-Newark plan is unfortunately similar to the recently released Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness (pdf) in one way — it lacks details about execution. The Essex-Newark plan states that detailed action plans will be completed by October 31st. As we previously stated in our post about the Federal Plan, its disconcerting when a proposal, like the one out of Newark, is long on generalities and short on specifics. Mayor Booker has thus far done a remarkable job on a variety of issues, including decreasing crime in Newark. Let’s see how he does to decrease and end homelessness. We’ll be watching.

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