MIDDLESEX COUNTY — On Wednesday, Jan. 26, Middlesex County will conduct its Point-in-Time Count 2011 (PITC) survey throughout the county’s 25 municipalities. This annual survey assists in developing a “snapshot” of the number of homeless persons living unsheltered outside, in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs.
“This event is essential to our role as caring, humane communities and people,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Blanquita B. Valenti, chairperson for the Department of Human Services and Senior Services. “We have a moral duty to identify the men, women and children in our cities and towns whose quality of life can be jeopardized because they lack a place to live, safe from the elements and other conditions that might threaten their well-being.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires localities across the United States to conduct the Point-in-Time survey as a prerequisite to apply for supportive housing funds for the homeless.
The annual census will occur on the same date in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. This year as in the past, volunteers will complete surveys from homeless persons who visit either of two sites in Middlesex County: the Salvation Army at 433 State Street in Perth Amboy (11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) or Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen at 18 Neilson Street in New Brunswick (11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.). Other volunteers will conduct “street outreach” visits to indoor and outdoor locations where homeless persons tend to congregate or reside.
During the 2010 survey, 1,536 homeless men, women and children were counted in Middlesex County. The statistical count usually reflects only a portion of those individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the county and the state. County Human Services officials estimated that 5,718 adults and children were homeless in Middlesex County during the year 2010.
In last year’s count, hundreds of individuals were surveyed at the New Brunswick and Perth Amboy sites, and additional surveys were completed during the outreach effort. An estimated 150 volunteers participated in the day’s activities.
“We have pledged to end homelessness in Middlesex County,” said Robert E. Mulcahy III, Chairman of Coming Home of Middlesex County, Inc. “We can and we will accomplish our mission.”
Coming Home is a non-profit corporation following a 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. Its leadership works closely with the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, following a strategic plan to end homelessness and create affordable, accessible, supportive and permanent housing for persons and families in need.
To increase the survey’s accuracy and offer direct help to the homeless, Middlesex County will, again, incorporate Project Homeless Connect (PHC) into this year’s process. This initiative supplements the survey, setting up sites around the County for the homeless to visit and be connected with case management services, donations and information on resources, such as social services, HIV/AIDS care, mental health services, housing, substance abuse resources, disability funding and health care.
This year a special appeal was made to the general public to donate unwanted yet useable coats, gloves, scarves, blankets, socks, underwear and thermal wear that can distributed to the area’s homeless and needy. Unusually cold and snowy weather across the country in the early weeks of 2011, including the Northeast region, has created additional and severe physical burdens especially for unsheltered homeless people.
Corporations in Middlesex County, state professional associations and state government agencies are donating valuable medical, dental and health care services to homeless persons visiting the two sites this year. The New Jersey Dental Association contributed dental hygiene supplies. The New Jersey Department of Human Services Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired will perform eye screenings to detect vision problems and Glaucoma suspects at the Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen and the Salvation Army sites. Persons who fail the eye screenings will receive follow-up services. Showers and haircuts will be offered at both sites.
Homeless persons can also participate in the Point-in-Time survey by calling InfoLine of Central Jersey at 1-888-908-INFO (4636).
Law enforcement agencies in Middlesex County have been notified of the survey schedule and have been asked to assist volunteers in locating sites where unsheltered homeless persons may congregate.
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