Homeless

Bridges
Rich Uniacke

The non-profit organization Bridges was founded in 1988 with its mission to end homelessness through volunteer-driven outreach and individual case management focusing on health, housing and independence.

Bridges Executive Director Rich Uniacke spoke with WBGO News Director Doug Doyle about how the organization is handling the coronavirus pandemic and the need for donations.

Ang Santos / WBGO

  

Newark’s city run extreme weather shelter won’t close at least until the end of August, but Mayor Baraka is looking into other ways to support the homeless.

“Every month is not a rough weather event so don’t have justification for keeping the shelter open 365 days a year.  There are providers who can do that and will do that.  We will support them, so they continue to do that.”

Baraka is creating a city-wide commission to help the homeless.

Bob Hennelly

Over forty years ago the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Mount Laurel decision was hailed nationally. It proclaimed it was unconstitutional for local zoning to exclude housing for its poor and working class.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The shelter targets the homeless population around Newark Penn Station, the public library, and several surrounding parks, but Mayor Ras Baraka says anybody who needs a bed and a meal, are welcome to stop by to get warm.

“We have to provide shelter but also give services so we can help them march their way into society.  It’s one thing to give people fish, it’s another thing to teach them how to fish.  That’s what we are trying to do here.  Give them the opportunity and provide a shelter that is not like the other shelters that exist.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is laying out a new strategy to reduce homelessness across the five boroughs.  He says the city will stop using private apartments, known as cluster sites, and commercial hotels to house the homeless.  He says they’ll build new or expand on existing shelters.

“Ninety new shelters will be necessary.  We think it’s more than a fair trade off to build new and better facilities, cleaner, safer facilities.  The overall number of buildings that are addressing the homeless crisis will be reduced by forty-five percent,” de Blasio said.

Senator Jeff Van Drew
Phil Gregory

 

A measure awaiting final legislative approval in the state Senate would require all county governments in New Jersey to have a Code Blue plan in place to shelter homeless residents during severe weather events.

 

Mike Oppegaard is president of the New Jersey Association of Emergency Management Coordinators. He’s concerned about the costs of providing shelter and services if the severe conditions persist for several days. He wants lawmakers to consider state grants to offset that expense.