SUMMIT, NJ, August 24, 2023
I would like to provide you with an update on the strides your elected officials, agency personnel and city staff are making in addressing one of our city’s pressing concerns: homelessness in Summit.
Since last November, Mayor Radest, members of Common Council and the Summit Police Department have been coordinating with non-profits and other area organizations. Our collaboration with Bridges, Summit Warm Hearts, GRACE, SHIP, the Summit Interfaith Council, Overlook Hospital, and NJ Transit Police among others, aims to comprehensively understand and address the needs of our unhoused neighbors.
This past winter, the Summit Police Department noted an alarming peak of over 60 unhoused individuals. However, with our collective efforts, several of these individuals now have access to supportive housing, medical care, or have found alternative living arrangements. As of now, 23 individuals are without homes in our city. It is heartening to note that out of these, 18 are under the attentive care of professional case managers, primarily from Bridges, actively seeking permanent housing and vital support services.
Allow me to shed light on some key initiatives we have undertaken:
Collaborative Strategy: Summit representatives have engaged with the NJ Department of Community Affairs, and we are now part of the Union County Comprehensive Emergency Access System/Continuum of Care. This association enriches our knowledge of effective outreach strategies from other communities and facilitates our access to crucial state and federal resources.
Direct Interaction: Our police department, and some council members, maintain regular interactions with unhoused individuals, especially around prominent city areas. Notably, three unhoused individuals attended a council meeting, providing us first-hand insights into the harsh realities of being homeless.
Data-Driven Approach: Our outreach and assessment methods now incorporate standardized questionnaires. This data-driven strategy will feed into the state database, aiding in formulating sustainable solutions and securing appropriate funding.
Resource Identification: We are constantly exploring resources to prevent homelessness and efficiently connect eligible individuals to services within Union County and their prior communities. Moving forward, the Summit Rent Commission will explore the possibility of including a member from the social services sector to increase communication among partners and make resources available to those in imminent need.
Housing Initiatives: Our officials are liaising with the State Department of Community Affairs to procure housing vouchers for eligible Summit residents.
This issue is complex, it will take more time, and it will take hard work. Common Council remains committed to collaborating, communicating and establishing the necessary public and private partnerships needed to end and prevent homelessness in Summit. We will continue to provide the public with frequent updates and information from the city and its partners.
Thank you for reading.
Common Council President, Summit NJ