It is an unfortunate reality that on any given night, thousands of Americans are homeless and living out on the streets. In Hoboken, we too are faced with this humanitarian crisis with upwards of 1,000 homeless people, including families and children, living in Hudson County.

I believe we have a moral responsibility to lend a helping hand to the homeless, many of whom are down and out on their luck, so they too can have an opportunity to succeed. That’s why last week, I was thrilled to announce several major initiatives to address chronic homelessness undertaken by Hoboken’s first ever homelessness task force.

These critical steps are aimed not just to provide stopgap measures in the short term, but also help address the root causes and provide the tools necessary to avoid falling back into homelessness.

In case you missed it, check out CBS News’ coverage of our efforts.

Hoboken’s homelessness plan consists of three steps: mitigation, prevention and compassion.

Mitigation: assisting those who are currently homeless

  • 25 housing vouchers were secured at a value of $250,000 per year to provide supporting housing services to those in need
  • Supportive services offered include mental health care, substance abuse treatment, health services, employment programs, and more

Prevention: keeping people from being homeless before its too late

  • The homelessness task force successfully recruited Easterseals, a non-profit charity, to provide supportive employment services for at risk individuals, adults with special needs, and seniors looking to reenter the workforce

Compassion: lending a hand to the homeless 

  • The Hoboken Community Center, formerly known as the YMCA, secured a $10,000 grant to operate as a full service food pantry
  • The homelessness task force will partner with local schools to establish fundraisers and help organize food drives
  • Donation meters will be placed at strategic locations to help fund homeless initiatives, including the Hoboken Homeless Shelter

Thank you to all of the members of the homelessness task force for helping follow through on these various projects. Thanks also to the members of the American Legion, who will soon be opening up a new Legion hall with supportive housing for homeless veterans, to the Hoboken Shelter for providing meals and assistance seven days a week, and to the many people who work behind the scenes every day to assist the homeless.

I am truly excited for these initiatives to unfold in the weeks and months ahead, so Hoboken can do its part to address homelessness. For more information on the task force recommendations, please click here.

Sincerely,

Ravi Bhalla