Camden County Freeholders Roll Out Plan to End Homelessness

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CAMDEN, N.J. --On Wednesday, September 13th, a resource fair was held at the Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, which brought different organizations together under one roof.

The fair was just an example of what Camden County Freeholders want as a part of their new plan to address homelessness around the county.

Representatives with Camden’s Cathedral Kitchen opened their doors for a One-Stop Resource Fair, in the hopes of tearing down walls and barriers while also bringing together different types of services and organizations that share the same goal - to help struggling community members.

“[This is] very much needed, not only in this community, but in every community that is suffering,” said Mark Woodall, a cook for Camden’s Cathedral Kitchen. "We need resources. We also need people to help and for people to know that they can get help.” 

Woodall knows, all too well, that resources like these are what helps struggling residents get back on their feet. 

This is very much needed, not only in this community, but in every community that is suffering.

Prior to his employment as a cook for the kitchen, Woodall spent time in jail and at a local halfway house before enrolling in a culinary arts training program, "couch surfing" until he was employed.

“It was rough, you know what I mean?” said Woodall. “You have to stay under somebody else’s roof and it’s really rough. So having this job and getting this opportunity has allowed me to have the funds to get my own place.”

To create more success stories like Woodall's, the Camden County Freeholders have taken a stance on ending homelessness with a new plan. 

By connecting individual local progressive programs and services together through a navigation system, they can better guide those who need help.

"The goal is that every one of those organizations will be a point of entering,” said Carmen Rodriguez, a freeholder for Camden County.

Rodriguez explained that the resource fair is being used to see how all of these organizations can come together to provide different types of help for different types of community members.

“I know that we have lots of resources and I know that we have lots of services,” said Rodriguez. “And there are very good services and agencies doing fantastic work. But the reality is, it’s been very disjointed and disorganized, which makes it really hard for families, and [especially hard for] the chronically homeless.” 

With an estimated 500 to 600 homeless individuals in the county, Rodriguez said they also have a team bringing resources to those citizens who are out on the streets. 

Whether it’s re-entry to life after prison, access to the Office of Mental Health and Addiction, job training, housing or anything in between, she admitted that this process is only the beginning of bringing an end to homelessness for good. 

For more information on outreach and what resources are available, visit camdencountyresourcecompass.org or call 800-331-7272.

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