On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, Bergen County Community College’s Institute for Public Policy (Paramus, New Jersey) hosted the event which featured an expert panel of presenters including:
- Dr. Sam Tsemberis, founder & CEO, Pathways to Housing;
- Lisa Stand, senior analyst for program and policy, National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH);
- Tom Toronto, president, Bergen County’s United Way; and
- Julia Orlando, director, Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center.
- Dr. Ron Milon, Vice President, Bergen Community College, welcomed the audience and Clark Lamendola, president, LaMendola Associates, moderated the expert panel.
Permanent, affordable housing was the dominant theme of the panel presentations. Dr. Tsemberis stressed that small scale solutions are not enough to end homelessness and instead, the Housing First model – affordable housing without the prerequisite of treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues – is the solution.
Lisa Stand highlighted communities across the country that have had success in ending family homelessness by using the rapid re-housing model – moving quickly to get families immediately back into affordable housing. Family homelessness increased slightly last year but more alarmingly, the problem is moving from the cities to the suburbs.
Tom Toronto talked about his visit to the Pathways to Housing program in New York City and how the Housing First model could successfully be implemented in New Jersey.
And lastly, Julia Orlando described how the Bergen County Center works locally to end homelessness in the County. The agency’s first goal is to obtain permanent housing – everyone who walks through the Center’s doors is evaluated for housing.
Attendees responded to the panel with a variety of questions.
The forum was prompted by College President Dr. G. Jeremiah Ryan’s shock and dismay over the lack of attention given to homelessness in one of America’s most affluent counties. Bergen County, New Jersey is the 21st most affluent county in the U.S. Yet, over the course of last year, an estimated 942 Bergen residents – our neighbors – went to sleep without a roof over their heads.
You can view videos from the event on the Monarch Housing website.