Housing First Collaborative Announces Intriguing New Initiative in Cumberland

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Left to Right: Rick Ortiz, Dr. Robin Weinstein, Oscar (homeless client getting his new place), and Ralph Padilla. 

(BRIDGETON, NJ) — Dr. Robin Weinstein, president of the M25 Initiative and convener of the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative, and Mr. Ralph Padilla, CEO of PRAC of New Jersey, announced Wednesday, January 10th, that the Collaborative is seeking landlords of rental properties in Cumberland County that are interested in housing one or more of the chronically homeless population that will be placed in permanent supportive housing. 

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“The Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative (CCHFC) is a unique consortium of social service organizations, faith-based institutions, and government officials committed to tackling the problem of chronic homelessness in Cumberland County,” said Dr. Weinstein.

Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live. Some people make mistakes, but everyone deserves a second chance. 

 

“The individuals in our program are working hard to turn their lives around and are in need of a second chance.  By partnering with us, landlords have the unique opportunity to help end homelessness in Cumberland County with guaranteed income for rent and support through the partners in the Collaborative.” 

The guiding agency of this collaborative is the M25 Initiative, a nonprofit organization based in Bridgeton, which also facilitates the grassroots Cumberland County Code Blue Coalition. The other partners of the collaborative include Gateway Community Action Partnership, PRAC of New Jersey, Resources for Independent Living, and CompleteCare. The collaborative is operating in partnership with the Cumberland County Jail, Inspira Health Network, and Monarch Housing. PRAC of New Jersey is responsible for the housing engagement duties of the Collaborative. 

“We have received a major grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs which provides us with 42 housing vouchers that we can use to find homes for the individuals who we can identify and process,” said Ralph Padilla. “These housing vouchers enable us to target Cumberland County’s chronically homeless individuals and place them in quality housing. Our clients are committed to succeeding, and we are committed to helping them succeed.  Yet, we cannot do it alone – landlords literally hold the key to our clients’ futures.” 

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The incentives for landlords to partner with the Collaborative include:

Eliminate advertising costs. Working with the Collaborative gives landlords access to a pool of ready-to-rent tenants. Just call PRAC when a unit is vacant, and they will quickly match the landlord up with a client that is looking for housing.

“Smart” renters. The clients have attended training on such topics as personal budgeting, understanding rental agreements, housekeeping and general apartment maintenance, being a good neighbor, etc. 

Rent Payments through the State. Clients in the Housing First Program are required to pay to the landlord 20 percent of their income toward their rent. The remaining amount of rent payments are sent through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

Problem prevention through regular home visits.  The case managers conduct regular home visits to ensure that clients are stabilized in their new environments, that their jobs are going well, and that they are getting the support they need.  Regular follow up with clients allows us to identify and address potential problems early on – before they become irreparable.

Clients are attached to needed services.  Some clients have special needs, but the Collaborative works with the clients on an ongoing basis to make sure they have the support they need to succeed.  The Collaborative works with clients to correct past mistakes and prevent future problems, and through their network of partners, clients have access to an array of supportive services. 

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“Despite the best efforts, problems are sometimes inevitable. However, when problems arise, it can be reassuring to know that there is someone to call.  We care as much about our relationship with our landlords as we do our clients” said Padilla. 

“Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live. Some people make mistakes, but everyone deserves a second chance.  By helping house our clients, you are playing an integral role not only in helping individuals take charge of their lives, but also in making your community a better place to live,” concluded Weinstein. 

Landlords that are interested in learning more about this program should contact PRAC of NJ and speak with Ralph Padilla or Rick Ortiz at (856) 982-6004/(856) 299-5800 ext. 14 or they can email eortiz@pracnj.com. For more information on the Collaborative, visit: endhomelessness2020.com. 

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