Mercer County Executive, Brian Hughes, will speak at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference next week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the success of Mercer County’s Rapid Re-housing program. The program significantly decreased the number of homeless people living in Mercer County, New Jersey. The number of homeless families decreased tremendously from 241 to 71 – a 76% decrease. As a state, 38% of homeless families are now under relief, while nationally, 16%.
Rapid Re-Housing, a program controlled by the Mercer Allegiance to End Homelessness, identifies those who are in needs and helps them find a home.
Compared to previous programs, the Rapid Re-Housing program shortens the amount of time the family can stay in the emergency house. Previously, families were able to stay in emergency housing for an average of 6 months. Now, short-term housing is reduced to 30 days.
Another change in the program: Hughes said that families can receive benefits like rental assistance and utilities funding after getting their own apartment. Beforehand, the program allowed permanent housing after the family receives a source of income through a job.
The purpose of the program is to help families and need and put them back into stability. Families can quickly fall back into homelessness or a huge pile of debt even after the temporary housing and getting a job. By providing assistance even after finding a residence and a job will help families start off fresh and slowly handle major payments.
Why reduce the emergency house term? The revamped program only allows nearly a month of short-term housing so that other families who are also in need can be helped by the program.
It is evident that Hughes’ program is working successfully and many have gathered at the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference to help their region. He released a statement in regarding the need for stabilization, “It’s a new way of looking at housing. We would like to drive homelessness down to zero, and in the interim we are going to work very hard to get families stabilized, because that’s where real progress comes from.”
Reynolds, Amy. "Mercer County Executive Hughes Will Talk Tactics to End Homelessness at D.C. Conference." NJ.com. Times of Trenton, 25 July 2014. Web. 25 July 2014.