Hudson County yesterday launched a pilot program that will use 25 rental vouchers from the state, combined with intense support services donated by two local hospitals, to find permanent housing for people who are vulnerable and chronically homeless. Hoboken University Medical Center will help five clients and Jersey City Medical Center will support 20.
“Many times, because of mental health issues — especially if they’re not getting treated — they won’t go into one of our supportive housing programs. So the first step for us, for example, might be somebody who’s living on the street,” said Jersey City Medical Center president and CEO Joseph Scott. “Make sure that they’re keeping their appointments, taking their medications, then all of a sudden they understand the need to go into supportive housing.”
The program will spend about $25,000 per client per year. It’s called “Familiar Faces,” because the chronically homeless often are familiar to cops, commuters, and neighbors.
“They’re familiar faces. These are people we went to high school with. These are people we eat in restaurants with. These are people that we know their moms and their dads, so we’re helping ourselves when we’re helping them,” said Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.
And saving money. Chronically homeless don’t just stay in shelters. They often make repeat trips to jail or to the emergency room. A separate cost analysis from Hudson County showed hospital and shelter costs decreased by $398,000 annually when the county helped 25 homeless clients find supportive housing for a year.
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