Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness
The mission of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is to ensure that all homeless residents of Mercer County have access to permanent, affordable and safe housing. The Alliance is a partnership of leaders from government, business, religious congregations and the non-profit service and advocacy sectors that banded together in 2004 to create and implement a plan to end homelessness in Mercer County, NJ.
The Mercer Alliance has facilitated the development and implementation of this plan since its inception. The goals for ending homelessness are being implemented by the many partner agencies and government entities that constitute the Alliance. The Alliance’s specific work toward these goals consists of: 1) Data collection and analysis; 2) Identifying system gaps; 3) Facilitating dialogue among stakeholders; 4) Incubating needed projects; 5) Training professionals and volunteers; 6) Advocating for best practices and financial resources; 7) Promoting awareness of homelessness and of comprehensive, inclusive solutions for preventing and ending it; and 8) Building community support for ending homelessness.
The Alliance has had notable achievements: 1) built a robust community volunteer network to staff the bi-annual service fair, Project Homeless Connect; 2) secured agreement from local governments to focus on ending homelessness through funding permanent housing with services and targeted prevention; 3) demonstrated the effectiveness of Housing First as an intervention that can end chronic homelessness and save public funds; 4) launched a new system to end family homelessness with the Board of Social Services as its center; 5) received national recognition for Rapid Rehousing, reducing by 20% the amount of time that families spend being homeless and lowering recidivism from 21% to 5%; 6) increased income for disabled homeless individuals through a county-wide collaborative using a national best practice (SOAR = Social Security Outreach, Access & Recovery) to receive the Federal disability benefits; 7) instituted a representative payee program to prevent homelessness among SSI/SSDI recipients; and 8) Promoted the Earned Income Tax Credit and tax sites to help create stability for low-income workers; building a volunteer network of 50+ volunteers annually, who complete about 1400 tax returns that return over $2M to Mercer County residents, with an average income of $22,000.