Catholic Charities of South Jersey will participate in the state’s 10th annual Point-in-Time count of the homeless from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1.
During this time, community service providers and volunteers survey individuals and families experiencing homelessness to collect information about homelessness. This data is critical in demonstrating the need for more affordable housing, accessible resources and continued support.
Catholic Charities of South Jersey will continue to play a pivotal role in this process in the counties it serves – Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem – with staff and volunteers helping to conduct the survey. In addition, Catholic Charities is hosting a donation drive for the homeless who are surveyed in Camden County. To donate, visit catholiccharitiescamden.org/donationwishlist; all items will be delivered to the Camden office site.
Items most needed include hand and foot warmers, scarfs, hats, gloves, bottled water, wipes, wash cloths, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand soap, Ziploc bags, general toiletries and feminine hygiene products, and $10 gift cards to convenience stores such as Wawa and Dunkin Donuts. Donated goods will be provided alongside the surveys administered.
The Point-in-Time initiative works to identify the amount of people living on the streets and those in emergency shelters, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, safe havens, institutions, hotels, motels or permanent supportive housing. In addition, the survey also requests demographic and health information, whether individuals would like to receive supportive services, and more information to help the state understand the homelessness crisis.
“Every year, we do this to understand the need for funding and resources for the homeless community across New Jersey. But we also do it to show the homeless community we care and that they count, which is why the donated goods are so important. We want them to trust us,” said Cynthia LeBron, Catholic Charities Housing Services Division director.
Beyond the donation drive, which is in partnership with other key community service providers such as the nonprofit Monarch Housing, Catholic Charities works tirelessly to bring awareness and resources to those facing homelessness before, during and after the Point-in-Time count.
Leading up to the event, Catholic Charities informs clients and the homeless community about the upcoming survey and the resources that will be available. During the count, Catholic Charities locations across all counties act as survey centers, where anyone experiencing homelessness can call or walk in to participate.
In select areas, such as Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties, Catholic Charities staff and volunteers will walk city streets to survey unsheltered homeless individuals. In other areas, teams will be stationed at Project Connect sites, which are sites typically hosted at local soup kitchens and throughout the community that offer resources such as blood pressure screenings, flu shots and legal help.
New Jersey’s annual Point-in-Time count of the homeless is made possible through local and state governments, along with nonprofit agencies, community advocates, volunteers and countless others.
Katie Hagan is marketing manager for Catholic Charities Diocese of Camden.