Last year,men, women and children, in 6,982 households across New Jersey were noted as homeless by NJCounts. That was an increase of 771 (9 percent) from 2017. (The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates a sheltered count each year and an unsheltered count every other year in states.) The 2018 count concluded that 1,288 people were chronically homeless, a 17.9 percent increase over 2017. The count also revealed racial disparities in the homeless population. Blacks or African-Americans made up 48.1 percent of the homeless last year while they were 12.7 percent of the state’s general population.
The count helps “to better understand the depth and breadth of the need for housing resources throughout New Jersey” said Taiisa Kelly, CEO of Monarch Housing Associates, which directed the latest count, NJCounts 2019 on January 23. During NJCounts, volunteers seek out homeless residents in shelters and transitional housing programs, in vacant buildings, under bridges, in the woods and at other locations.