The spread of COVID-19 has raised concerns over a potential surge in the number of people experiencing homelessness. However, even before the pandemic began, newly released numbers suggest that homelessness had already been on the rise in the Garden State this year.
Cranford-based non-profit Monarch Housing Associates published the results of the 2020 NJCounts Point-in-Time Count last month, revealing a nine percent increase in the number of people found to be experiencing homelessness from the 2019 count.
“Counties across the state annually conduct NJCounts, as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to secure federal funding for programs serving persons experiencing homelessness,” according to a statement from Monarch Housing Associates.
A total of 9,663 people experiencing homelessness were found around New Jersey on the night of January 28, 2020, according to the organization, 1,786 of whom were unsheltered and 45 of whom were unaccompanied children.
Overall, Monarch Housing Associates reported that unsheltered homelessness went up by 21 percent, chronic homelessness increased by 19.2 percent, homelessness in families rose by eight percent, and the number of unaccompanied children experiencing homelessness soared by 32 percent.
“In addition to the increase in the total number of people identified experiencing homelessness, New Jersey continues to see disparities in who experiences homelessness,” according to the organization. “Similar to national trends, persons identifying as Black or African American experience homelessness at disproportionately higher rates. On par with trends observed in prior years, Black people in New Jersey represent about 13% of the state population but about 50% of the identified population experiencing homelessness.”
The count found 2,214 people experiencing homelessness in Essex County and 944 people experiencing homelessness in Hudson County.
At the local level, NJCounts found homelessness in urban, suburban, and rural areas, but there were notable large concentrations of people experiencing homelessness in cities. Newark was found to have 1,859 people experiencing homelessness, Camden had 458, Jersey City had 434, Paterson had 424, Elizabeth had 387, Atlantic City had 384, Trenton had 347, Hackensack had 221, and New Brunswick had 175.