SHELTER PROVIDERS CONSORTIUM
The Power of A Collective Voice
What Is the NJ Shelter
The Shelter Providers Consortium is lead by the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness, and harnesses relationships with government officials and the expertise, passion, and caring of our members to advocate for shelters and those they serve. During the worst, earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shelter Providers Consortium successfully fought for NJ shelters’ ability to house and care for their clients. Over the past year, the Consortium has achieved major policy successes and continues to advocate on behalf of common interests and goals, as described below.
Frontline Worker Pay Increases
Due to the concerted efforts of Consortium members and Sen. Shirley Turner, the NJ FY22 Budget included $9 million in per diem rate increases for homeless shelters to boost pay for frontline workers, to retain quality staffing which was a large issue. As an organized group, the Consortium put the issue front and center, preventing shelters from being left out of a historic $46.4 billion budget that included hundreds of millions in pay raises for other frontline workers.
Led NJ's Homelessness
We successfully fought for homeless shelters to be among the first to receive COVID vaccines and ensured that local Points of Dispensing (PODs) across the state obtained vaccines for people experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence.
We also advocated piloting rapid COVID testing, and as a result the NJ Department of Health agreed to statewide expansion, so shelters could reopen their doors fully.
Our Consortium also became recognized as a NJ purchasing collaborative which ensured access to hard-to-obtain PPE supplies and continues to benefit Consortium members today.
“The Shelter Consortium in NJ brought us together at one table for a voice to be heard. The group includes many who are doing and sharing great work throughout the Garden State. Thank you!”
-Bob Frankenfield, Executive Director, Family Promise of Warren County
"At The Table" With Government
The Consortium is working with federal, state, and local government to ensure that shelter representatives will have meaningful input in shaping new shelter operation guidelines and requirements. To provide the state with a comprehensive assessment of the current situation, we have also surveyed shelters to gather information on bed availability and other operation details pre- and post-COVID.
Mental Health Solutions For Shelters
The Consortium reached out and warned of the growing mental health crisis at shelters. In response, the NJ Department of Health's Director of Mental Health & Addiction has pledged to work with the Consortium to develop and fund a sustainable solution to provide ongoing direct mental health services in shelters for adults and children who are homeless.
“This has literally been the most effective and meaningful professional group that I've been a part of. I'm so proud of what we've been able to accomplish. There truly is strength in numbers!”
-Zammeah Bivens-Gibson, Executive Director
Isaiah House, East Orange
Public Health Solutions For Shelters
We have discussed with NJ's Department of Health the need for better access to critical public health services for “hard to serve populations” at our shelters, starting with more addiction counseling and testing for STDs, TB and other health issues. In addition, we are working to get the Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Systems serving our clients.
Training For Shelter Staff
Through Act-Cess USA, the Consortium successfully applied for the NJ Department of Labor’s Upskill New Jersey Incumbent Worker Training Grant, which will provide up to $150,000 in reimbursement for shelter worker training, including courses in crisis de-escalation, trauma-informed care, and Homelessness 101. This will enable needed training for providers who could not otherwise afford it.
“The Consortium... we help each other navigate the often difficult, common issues we all face together as we support one another to carry out our missions.”
-Shawn Sheekey, Former Executive Director
Joseph’s House of Camden
Access to Experts - Legal, Human Resources & Financial Professionals
The Consortium has partnered with employment lawyers, HR professionals, and financial services experts to serve as resources to our member shelters – many of whom previously have been forced to operate without access to experts in these fields. These professionals provided 1-1 counseling and also lead training sessions for our Consortia members.
We are in frequent communication with the dDirector of NJ’s new Office of Homelessness Prevention, who has recognized the Consortium as the go-to representative of homeless shelter providers’ interest and as a public resource, already referring shelter start-ups to the Consortium for guidance.