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Advocacy Priorities

Our work is to serve as a coalition to help unite service providers, advocates, and other relevant groups and individual leaders throughout the state toward our common goal of ending homelessness in New Jersey.  Our voice is magnified through the Coalition’s legislative testimony, written submissions to government agencies, press interviews, and other advocacy.  

Improving the Safety Net


  • We work to address homelessness in the larger context of poverty.  With high rents and low wages, an effective "safety net" of government programs is crucial to prevent homeelssness.  Yet our current programs are underfunded and have many exclusions


  • One of our current targets is modifying the lifetime ban on General Assistance (GA) for individuals convicted of drug distribution.  On March 12th, 2015, S2806 was introduced in teh NJ Legislature which amends the Work First New Jersey program to remove restrictions on convicted drug offenders that deny them GA.  For more details, click here.


  • Along with many partners, we are working to develop a housing center in Ocean County, where there are few resources available to shelter the homeless.



Garden State Leaders


  • A program designed to build leadership and advocacy skills among those who have direct, lived experience with homelessness. 


  • Each of the six, free sessions will focus on a different topic related to advocacy and leadership development, including effective communication and telling one’s story, working with the media, the legislative process in New Jersey, and how to get involved and advocate within your community, among others. 


  • Goal is to increase participants' capacity to take on influential roles on issues pertinent to their lives and to ultimately bring more advocates with lived experience to the the policy process.



Alternatives to Criminalization of Homelessness


  • In some New Jersey cities, individuals have been arrested for activities such as sleeping outdoors or begging.  We oppose such actions because individuals experiencing homelessness should be afforded dignity, respect and support.  Criminalization policies are costly, infringe on constitutional liberties, and do not provide a solution to homelessness.


  • In March 2015, a settlement was reached in a lawsuit filed in December 2014, challenging two New Brunswick, NJ laws that prohibited begging for food or money.  The Coalition was a plaintiff in the lawsuit, along with John Fleming, who had been arrested four times for holding a sign that says "Broke/ Please Help/ Thank You/ God Bless You."  In the settlement, New Brunswick agreed to not enforce the laws and to repeal or amend them as soon as possible.  The Coalition was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and pro bonolawyers from McCarter & English, LLP.  Click here and here for some of the news coverage of the settlement


  • The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty recently has examined the increase in laws criminalizing homelessness, and issued a report "No Safe Place; The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities."   To read the full report, click here.



Advocating for Housing First, Rapid Re-Housing, and Coordinated Assesment


  • The Coalition advocates for the adoption of housing first and rapid re-housing models, which are evidence-based approaches that quickly connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry. 



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