Donations Sought for the Homeless by Jan. 27

Somerset County Board of Freeholders
The Somerset County Department of Human Services is seeking donations of personal and clothing items to be included in packages that will be distributed on Wednesday, Jan. 27, when the county conducts its annual Point-in-Time survey of homeless individuals and families in Somerset County.
Requested personal items include shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, soap, deodorant and feminine-hygiene products.  Clothing items include new socks, underwear, T-shirts, sweatshirts and pants, gloves, hats, scarves and mittens. 
“I want to thank the public for their generosity in providing donations of clothing and personal items in the past,” said Freeholder Patricia L. Walsh, human services liaison. “Given the difficult economy, individuals and families that are already vulnerable are finding it even more difficult to make ends meet, and any donation would be greatly appreciated.”
Donations may be dropped off at the Somerset County Community Development Office, located on the second floor of the Human Services Building at 27 Warren St. in Somerville, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Jan. 18.
Free parking is available in the parking deck at 27 Warren St., on the third and fourth floors only. Additional free parking is available about two blocks away in the Bernie Field Parking Deck on East High Street, adjacent to the county administration building.  Exit the parking deck from the rear and cross Main Street. Metered parking also is available on Main Street. 
Point-in-Time volunteers will interview the homeless as part of Project Homeless Connect, which will be hosted on the same day at the Samaritan Homeless Interim Program (SHIP), located at 87 E. High St. 
Social service organizations will be on hand to screen clients for relevant services and distribute donated items.  Volunteers also will be sent out in groups of two for two-hour shifts to conduct the survey and distribute donated items in Bound Brook, Franklin, Manville, North Plainfield and South Bound Brook.   
The survey is part of a statewide effort to obtain an accurate snapshot of New Jersey’s homeless population in response to a directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The data is also used by the county and local non-profit agencies when applying for grants to assist the homeless population.
Collecting baseline data is essential to understanding the causes of homelessness and designing effective responses. Somerset County is required to report the number of people who are homeless at particular intervals in order to apply for HUD Continuum-of-Care funding, which is a discretionary grant that provides housing and supportive services to people with special needs. Data collection at regular intervals also helps track progress toward reducing homelessness.
 For more information, contact Tracey Rizk, Somerset County Community Development Office, at (908) 541-5756 or [email protected]