Last Thursday, Hoboken Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla announced the formation of a task force to tackle homelessness in Hoboken, with a focus on addressing root factors. “It’s simply not enough to feed and house a person one night at a time,” said Bhalla in a statement. “We need to look at giving people the resources they need to stay off the streets long-term. That means access to proper mental and physical health care, education and job training, access to good-paying jobs, affordable housing, and more.”
Members of the task force include officials from the Hoboken city government, police force, and division of health and human services. The group will partner with local community organizations including the 49-bed Hoboken Shelter, faith groups, and corporate partner CarePoint Health.
“We are grateful that the City of Hoboken will be expending such significant energy and resources towards the challenge of homelessness in Hoboken,” said Rabbi Robert Scheinberg of the United Synagogue of Hoboken and chair of the Hoboken Clergy Coalition, who added that the task force will be focused on “compassionately helping people to move off of the streets into safer environments, and giving them the various kinds of support they need to live independently.”
In the same statement, Randy Minniear, Executive Vice President for External Affairs for CarePoint Health, praised Bhalla for the initiative’s collaborative approach. “Our team currently works with The Hoboken Shelter to provide regular health screenings for their residents, and we view this as an opportunity to expand on that outreach and develop a comprehensive strategy to find real solutions to address homelessness in our community,” Minnear said.
Longstanding nonprofit Hudson Pride Connections Center, which serves as an advocate for the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities in Hudson County, is also on board. “Hudson Pride Center is proud to join the Hoboken Homelessness Task Force,” said Hudson Pride Center CEO Michael Billy. He added: “The LGBTQ+ Community, especially our youth, face homelessness at an alarming rate. Additionally, our homeless community members have a difficult time finding shelters that both accept and respect gender identity or gender sexuality. We will be joining the task force to ensure those issues are addressed.”
The Hudson County Alliance to End Homelessness is the main consortium in place to fight homelessness in the area, but Hoboken is the first municipality to launch its own dedicated task force.