Homelessness Trust Fund Provides Rental Assistance & More
Somerset County’s Homelessness Trust Fund has leveraged more than $350,000 in accrued fees to provide rental assistance and other services aimed at helping clients maintain permanent housing within Somerset County.
“The results speak for themselves,” said Freeholder Patricia Walsh, program liaison. “Of the 19 people who have completed the program to date, all are still housed and are paying their rent with earned income. There have been several success stories: one client has purchased a home, another will pursue a doctorate at Rutgers this fall, and three clients got higher-paying jobs – two of them making enough money so that they are no longer eligible for the program.
“This program was developed to help prevent homelessness among people who are working but who may have experienced a setback, or couples where one partner has lost a job,” she said. “In the current economy, this situation has occurred in all too many households.”
A special information session on the Homelessness Trust Fund program will be held Thursday, April 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Somerville Library. For details visit http://bit.ly/HTFInfo2014 or call 908-541-5756.
The Homelessness Trust Fund was created by the Board of Freeholders in 2010 through a resolution authorizing the County Clerk to collect a $3 surcharge for all documents recorded. The Board also appoints a committee of 14 people – including two Freeholders, county staff and community members – to approve a plan setting priorities for the use of the funding and to make changes to the program as needed.
To date the fund has accrued $511,511, of which $289,000 has been allocated for rental assistance, case management and financial education; $18,000 for planning and administration through the county Community Development Office; and $50,000 for special-needs housing. Clients are referred by the Somerset County Board of Social Services, the Central Jersey Housing Resource Center (CJHRC) and other community agencies.
Clients receive an average subsidy of $250 per month and are required to meet monthly with a case manager, apply to a savings-match program and attend a “Money in Motion” class at the CJHRC. Currently there are 17 households enrolled, with a total of 40 people.
Future plans for the Homelessness Trust Fund program include an enhanced referral system with the Board of Social Services and the recruitment of client mentors.
In order to qualify, applicants must be employed, have a formal lease at a rate lower than the fair-market rent for the unit size and be within the following income limits: $51,500 for one person, $58,800 for two people, $66,200 for three, $73,500 for four, $79,400 for five or $85,300 for six.
For more information or to apply, contact the Somerset County Community Development Office at 908-541-5756.