UPDATED NOTE FROM COMMUNITY HOPE: Operation Stand Down Morristown, mentioned in this post, has been set for Nov. 9 and 10 at the Morristown Armory on Western Avenue. The event is an outreach to homeless and need veterans and their families. It will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
The program will provide homeless veterans with meals, clothing, and access to medical and mental health services, shelter and other community services. Sleeping accommodations will be available for homeless veterans ovenight on Friday, Nov.9.
The significance of the recent housing bus tour organized by the United Way’s Housing Alliance was not just that it displayed quality affordable housing and the residents who live there, but it was the embodiment of the political argument the alliance has been making of late.
The alliance helped raise awareness that the state was planning to take municipal affordable housing trust fund cash to fill a hole in the 2013 state budget. A court ruling said the state had to give the towns an opportunity to show how the funds would be used before grabbing it.
To make the argument, all the alliance had to do was point to the homes on the tour built by Morris Habitat for Humanity, Homeless Solutions and The Rose House. In each case the projects were developed in cooperation and/or with funding from the municipality. Matched with other funds, the organizations were able to show larger funders that there was support for their projects.
It seems so simple.
Cooperation breeds success. Old homes get make-overs, vacant lots become productive. Neighborhoods get better.
How much better?
Homeless Solutions will dedicate two new apartments in a renovated building on Abbett Avenue in Morristown on July 26.
The agency is also completing six new one-bedroom apartments on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Those apartments will mean that Homeless Solutions has developed 28 affordable homes in Morristown within the last five years, worth over $7 million to meet a community need.
The other lesson the non-profits could teach politicians is that one can not survive an economic turndown without income. At some point, when you have emptied the hole where you are standing, emptied to the point that you are the only one in that hole, you need to start filling it.
When traditional sources of funding dried up, and it was clear there weren’t enough hats to pass, Morris Habitat, and soon Homeless Solutions, found other ways to raise money.
They went into the used furniture and building materials business.
Habitat’s Re-Store was an instant success and will celebrate Saturday its grand re-opening at its new location on South Salem Street in Randolph
In the fall, Homeless Solutions will open Furnishing Solutions , a furniture resale store in the Powder Mill Plaza West shopping center in Morris Plains.
In a time when there is more complaining than doing, these agencies found innovative solutions to key problems.
Isn’t that what we do as a nation? Our history is filled with a succession of good ideas that were made better by successive thinkers and doers. We build on our past, sometimes pushing forward with small steps; sometimes taking great leaps.
One of those areas of service that has been growing is meeting the needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the past the Morris County non-profit community joined with Picatinny Arsenal, county and local governments and the state’s military agencies to develop plans to offer help to these returning vets and their families. The effort is supported each November by a fundraising walk to bolster the United Way’s Frontline Fund.
As a result, veterans and their families receive meals, clothing and access to medical and mental health services, shelter and other community services.
On Aug. 18 and 19, the New Jersey Fallen Soldiers Foundation and Community Hope will host a Stand Down outreach program for homeless and needy veterans on at the Morristown Armory.
Community Hope, a leader in providing services and shelter for mentally ill and disabled residents, has become a regional leader in providing housing for veterans. Projects at the U.S. Veterans Administration’s Lyons facility provide temporary and permanent housing for veterans along with support services.
Participating in the August event include the New Jersey Veterans Affairs Healthcare System; the Department of Labor; the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans; the National Coalition for the Homeless; Morris County Veterans of Foreign War; Morris County American Legion; Family Services of Morristown; Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center; Eric Johnson House; Homeless Solutions; Interfaith Food Pantry; Salvation Army of Morristown; Morris County Human Services and faith based institutions.
In the release announcing the event, J. Michael Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of Community Hope, said, “We have the programs in place to help homeless veterans. The challenge is to encourage them to come in off the streets and accept the services that are available. Stand downs provide this opportunity to engage with our neediest veterans.”
To support the Stand Down or for more information on the event, please contact Tom Dresdner at 973-920-0831 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Then there is government working to solve other problems.
The Morris Area Para-Transit System, part of the county’s Department of Human Services, has been awarded a $406,125 Federal Transit Administration grant that it plans to use to help veterans, military families and others connect to jobs and services in their communities by improving access to local transportation options.
The grant, under the FTA’s Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, will enable MAPS to develop a One-Click/One-Call Transportation Resource Center to coordinate local transportation services to veterans who live in the Morris County area, Hope Hezel, director of special transportation, said in the release announcing the funds.
The issues we face are not insurmountable or, really, even new.
What’s new is the pervasive attitude that everything is broken.
Pass it on.