POSTED BY admin | Jan, 16, 2018 |

Shelter and services to be offered for local homeless veterans

Newark, New Jersey, January 12, 2018 – Long-time Newark non-profit organization Independence: A Family of Services (IFS) introduced its plans for a reimagined homeless bridge housing program to provide desperately-needed support for Newark’s homeless veterans.  IFS’s application is on the agenda for the Newark Central Planning Board’s January 22, 2018 meeting and we urge all supporters to attend.  The meeting will be held at Newark City Hall Council Chambers, 920 Broad Street, Floor 2, on January 22, 2018 at 6:30 PM.

IFS has received support from Mayor Ras Baraka, City of Newark; Dr. Robert Johnson, Dean Rutgers Medical School; Dan McSweeney, President United War Veterans Council; several Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion Posts, in addition to residents of Newark and community agencies.

Sadly, former United States service members are among those without a home and comprise a significant percentage of the homeless population in Newark.  With a challenging local job market and the lack of affordable housing, the Veteran Affairs – Newark Regional Office frequently faces limited service capacity in Newark.  

“Our model will not include those stereotypical lines associated with a traditional shelter, but rather our model includes a safe and secure living environment that is conducive to achieving the ultimate goal of helping veterans find permanent housing and reconnect them with their families. Additional services will be provided to serve people with needs, through referrals, transportation, training, and more, as needed,” states President/CEO, Margaret L. Woods who has led IFS for over 30 years, developing and delivering pioneering community programs for children, adults, and families throughout the Greater Newark Community.

In October 2017, IFS hosted a community meeting where local residents were invited to learn more about the program. Among the topics discussed were the program’s state-of-the-art 24-hour security system and its activities schedule as well as IFS’ expertise in delivering services for veterans.  Unfortunately, the meeting rapidly deteriorated when some residents voiced their support for the program concept but expressed their opposition to its proximity to their homes.

This model is a state-of-the-art short-term 40-bed bridge housing program dedicated to moving homeless veterans into permanent and sustainable housing.  The program will offer nutritious meals, clothing and personal hygiene products.   Participants will receive clinical healthcare, counseling, and case management services along with life skills training, family reconnection and community engagement services, and recreational/cultural activities. Veterans will receive transportation to and from required VA and area service appointments that are not provided in-house. The program is designed to address both the physical and mental health of participants with the goal of advancing them to permanent and sustainable housing.

IFS remains committed to educating residents on the model, citing it will not damage the esthetics of the neighborhood and its location, and won’t pose a threat to families in the area.  

“Homeless veterans need us. In other communities where local agencies, residents and direct service providers work together, these problems are solved and benefit the veterans in need.  Only by working together can we find lasting solutions to the challenge of homelessness. When a veteran serves our interest in a foreign land they should all have a home to come back to,” continues Ms. Woods.

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