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The new Family Shelter at Ocean’s Harbor House will work to break the cycle of homelessness in the lives of families experiencing it. Because of the overwhelming community support for this project, those in need will be able to come to us for nutritious meals, safe shelter, and one-on-one case management as they create pathways for careers and plan for permanent housing. The Shelter will open some time in 2024.
The goal of the family shelter will be to empower families with children to regain their foothold in the community and transition them to independence. This is an upstream approach to youth homelessness, solving family problems before children get separated from their parents. Due to the shift in government policy to keep children with their families and provide wrap-around services to support them, there has been a severe decrease in requests for unaccompanied children who need temporary shelter. Instead, we have recorded a heightened demand and need in our community for families in need of shelter and support services.
The 2023 Point in Time homeless survey annually counts those experiencing homeless on a single night in January. This year’s survey showed 158 Persons in Families in Ocean County were in motel rooms with substandard living arrangements. We are told that there is also a long waiting list for families experiencing homelessness or about to be homeless. Meanwhile, rents have increased dramatically across our region while an average of 14 new court evictions are filed a day. Families are becoming the fastest growing group among the homeless population.
Ocean County is the only county in the state that does not have a shelter for adults and currently no family shelter exists. Lack of a stable address makes gainful employment and documentation almost impossible. Unemployment and underemployment make a healthy living situation improbable. Meanwhile, the stress and stigma of homelessness on youth and families both cause and enhance mental health issues.
In the last decade, and in the last three years primarily, we have seen increasing numbers of homeless families being placed in motel rooms. Poor nutrition and hygiene resulting from these cramped quarters exacerbate existing mental and physical health issues. While these rooms have been one of the only choices for families, the number of motel rooms available is diminishing as the motels once designated for HUD housing are demolished or upgraded to unattainable real estate. Because of our coastal community, many motels are being sold and destroyed for higher priced properties, further diminishing what is accessible for homeless families.
Creating a family shelter will assist approximately 20 people or 5 families to be housed in a home-like facility with a beautiful common area, kitchen and gardens. This facility will not meet the total need for families in our community as we have been told that there are at least 135 families on a waiting list for unclean, unsafe motel rooms (the customary source of shelter presently available). However, we can serve families for the first time ever in this space and help to move the needle forward on the family homelessness issue.
Our family shelter will provide dignity, safe and healthy living space, healthy and nutritious food, and beautiful outdoor space. We will become a much-needed resource to other community organizations who are serving people in need due to financial insecurity, food insecurity and housing insecurity.
Please stay tuned as we continue to move forward on this exciting new project.
Your Giving Matters
Your financial contribution is a sound investment in building foundations and futures for our region’s youth and their families. All donations are tax-deductible and help us sustain and expand programs, facilities and staff. Please email us at email@example.com for how your gift can make a difference.
Nearly 90% of all contributions go directly to serving youth and their families.
Each year groups help us with our wish list for our residential programs. They also assist with clean up projects, holiday decorating projects and other special projects that occur in different seasons. Your group can help keep the spirit of home alive. Contact us for a list of seasonal projects.
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