One by one, homeless men and women filed into the office of Ocean Hunger Relief on Wednesday, looking for a hot meal, food coupons and some blankets to help them survive the cold winter stretch. They also filled out questionnaires on homelessness as part of Ocean County’s “Point in Time” survey. The survey, conducted in conjunction with Project Homeless Connect, helps officials from the county and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development determine the need for programs and services for homeless people.
“This is mandated every other year, but we do it annually,” said Kathy Jaworski, Ocean County Human Services Advisory Council coordinator. “We count the sheltered and unsheltered, and that information goes to HUD and Ocean County officials so they can address the needs.”
Homeless people were asked to complete surveys Wednesday at four participating sites throughout the county: Ocean County Hunger Relief, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Seaside Heights, Macedonia Baptist Church in Lakewood and the St. Francis Community Center in Long Beach Township.
A similar homeless count was taken in Monmouth County.
Steve Brigham of Lakewood, an advocate for the homeless for more than 10 years, said he hopes this survey will convince officials that Ocean County needs a shelter of its own.
“We need a big enough shelter to meet the need — not some four-bed shelter in Waretown,” Brigham said. “I hoping the numbers here and at the other churches will substantiate the need. I hope they will convince the county. We need food through pantries and medical services, but our No. 1 need is a shelter.”
County officials argue against the need for a county shelter and have long contended that there are many privately operated shelters throughout Ocean. More so, they contend they have subsidized outreach efforts with public money, most notably the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. They would also argue the county Board of Social Services routinely places homeless people in local motels when needed and covers the cost for several days. Read full article in APP.