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Human Services Commissioner highlights organization for work to prevent poverty
TRENTON – Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez today visited Family Promise in Summit to help advance their mission to serve low income and homeless families by announcing the award of a $33,000 shelter support grant. The funds, distributed by the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), will be used by the organization to purchase a van for the transportation of clients to and from residential shelters, educational programs and employment opportunities.“In the weeks since Superstorm Sandy, concern for the chronic and circumstantially homeless population in New Jersey has grown,” said Commissioner Velez. “But, Family Promise has been focused on the issue for nearly 25 years.  Its outreach work in New Jersey has provided help and hope to countless families in need.” 
Family Promise is a non-profit community-based agency that works with about 182 affiliates and 160,000 volunteers in 41 states to eradicate poverty. Participating families get the hands-on guidance and support they need to find and maintain employment, secure safe housing and achieve sustainable independence.
“A wave of unfortunate experiences such as the loss of a job, caring for a child’s long-term or chronic illness and displacement due to fire or storm can impact a family’s life and living situation dramatically,” the Commissioner added. “Family Promise works with these families through the difficult times and empowers them to get back on their feet.”
This Fall, more than $4 million in shelter grants have been awarded by DCA to 28 nonprofit and local government agencies operating emergency homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities located throughout New Jersey. The grants will be used for a variety of initiatives - to create new emergency shelter beds, abate code violations, purchase equipment or furnishings – that result in improved access and services for homeless or near-homeless residents.
“We’re very grateful to the state for this grant which will allow us to provide vitally needed transportation for families so they can find housing,” said Karen Olson, President and founder of Family Promise. “As a member of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, I know firsthand how critical it is to respond to the needs of low-income families who have fallen into homelessness and to provide them with the services they need.”
The Council was established by Governor Chris Christie in April 2012 by Executive Order. It is charged with identifying and addressing the needs of New Jersey’s at-risk families in order to prepare a comprehensive ten-year plan to prevent and end homelessness.  Its membership includes representatives from ten state agencies and 15 public advocates.
Today's event was part of the Christie Administration's second annual Season of Service.  Last year, Commissioner Velez participated in several events across the state -- from collecting and distributing toys to children in low income families, helping to serve and stock food pantries and delivering coats to homeless shelters.
Governor Christie has emphasized the importance of community service since his inaugural in 2010. Today, approximately 1.5 million New Jerseyans contribute about 170 million hours of service each year, bringing a positive influence to neighborhoods and communities throughout the Garden State through local groups, houses of worship and civic organizations.
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