Funds Will Expand Transitional Housing Program for Homeless Families

TRENTON, NJ – In the spirit of volunteering to help those in need, the Christie Administration is conducting its second annual Season of Service outreach to recognize New Jersey’s community service organizations and encourage New Jerseyans to volunteer. Continuing in this effort, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III this evening visited Homefirst Interfaith Housing & Family Services (Homefirst) in the City of Plainfield to announce that the organization has been awarded a $350,000 Shelter Support grant from the DCA and to distribute holiday gift food bags to families and children of the program.

Grant funds will enable Homefirst to expand its transitional housing program through the acquisition and furnishing of two properties, which will increase the number of transitional housing units for homeless families to 10.

“The Department of Community Affairs wants to ensure that community organizations such as Homefirst get the resources they need to help households in crisis,” said Commissioner Constable. “The Shelter Support grants will help local and faith-based organizations provide people with a warm, dry place to stay until they can regain their financial footing and move into more permanent housing.”

Homefirst Interfaith Housing and Family Services, Inc. was founded in 1986 and has become one of the leading housing, social service, family strengthening and community building organizations in Union County. Dedicated to improving the quality of life for the homeless, Homefirst has a strong partnership with the faith community and promotes personal development, independence and self-sufficiency, as well as community building for safe and stable neighborhoods through its housing and social service programs.

“Receiving this grant will allow Homefirst to acquire more transitional housing units and give us the ability to move homeless families into housing,” said Ellen McGovern, Executive Director of Homefirst. “At the same time, Homefirst provides supportive and comprehensive family strengthening services.”

The DCA recently awarded $4.03 million in Shelter Support grants to 28 nonprofit and local government agencies operating emergency homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities in New Jersey. Grants funds will address building code violations and safety issues, create additional bed space, support existing beds in homeless shelters and transitional housing, and purchase equipment and furnishings. The grants seek to improve living conditions for homeless individuals, domestic violence survivors, and military veterans.

Funding for the grants is a combination of state appropriation and money from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grants are administered through the DCA’s Division of Housing and Community Resources.

Today’s event in Plainfield was 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 shut-ins 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.