As part of the Christie Administration's Season of Service for residents in need, Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd today served lunch to clients of an emergency shelter operated by Catholic Charities in Newark, where she announced a $94,000 shelter support grant.
The grant will be used by Catholic Charities to improve fire safety, including replacing fire escapes, fire doors and security cameras at their Hope House shelter in Jersey City.
Catholic Charities serves over 77,000 individuals in the four counties, which comprise the Archdiocese of Newark - Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union. "Every day Catholic Charities works to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities. They are helping families displaced by Hurricane Sandy in some of Northern New Jersey's most densely populated areas. They feed and shelter the homeless and those living with HIV/AIDS through a network of seven shelters and transitional housing programs and 50 food pantries throughout the four counties," said Health Commissioner O'Dowd. "The funds announced will help Catholic Charities provide services in a safe atmosphere."
The grant announcement was made at St. Bridget's AIDS Support Network, a transitional and emergency shelter that provides housing and support services to homeless men living with HIV/AIDS. Clients at the residence have access to case management services, advocacy services, educational workshops and recreational activities. With 35 beds, St. Bridget's supports more than 300 individuals each year. St. Bridget's has a nurse who works three evenings a week and a doctor who works at the residence once a week.
The Department of Health supports Catholic Charities with HIV grant funding. In 2012, Catholic Charities received $151,000 in state and federal funding to support HIV testing of inmates at Union and Hudson County jails. In 2011, the organization tested 2,425 inmates, identifying 13 new HIV positive individuals.
"Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark and the Department of Health have had a long and harmonious partnership helping those in need," said Phillip Frese, the CEO of Catholic Charities. "We appreciate this shelter grant from the state that will help us offer a warm, safe, and welcoming environment to our clients."
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) awards shelter support grants each year. In October 2012, the DCA awarded $4 million in Shelter Support grants to 28 nonprofit and local government agencies operating emergency homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities located throughout the state. The grants will be used to create new emergency shelter beds, abate code violations, address life safety issues in emergency shelters and transitional housing facilities, support existing shelter beds, and purchase equipment, furnishings and vans, resulting in improved living conditions for homeless individuals, victims of domestic violence and military veterans.
Funding for the grants is a combination of state and federal funds.
Today's event is part of the Christie Administration's second annual Season of Service. Last year, Cabinet members participated in approximately 60 events across the state -- from serving meals on wheels to home-bound individuals and helping to serve and stock food pantries to stuffing care packages for military service members overseas and holiday letter writing to troops abroad to collecting and delivering coats to homeless shelters.
Governor Christie has emphasized the importance of community service since his inaugural in 2010. Today, approximately 1.5 million New Jerseyans contribute about 170 million hours of service each year, bringing a positive influence to neighborhoods and communities throughout the Garden State through local groups, houses of worship and civic organizations.
More on Catholic Charities can be found at: http://www.ccannj.com/about_us.php
More information on HIV/AIDS services in New Jersey can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/index.shtml