Providing support across Mercer County, HomeFront is one of the region's leading non-profit community action agencies. They may have some short term support services for the working poor, low income and unemployed in the region. Some of what they can offer, such as food, will allow families to free up their resources so they can pay for their other basic needs, such as their rent.
While some emergency financial aid, such as for housing or energy bills, is offered, that is limited. Rather a key focus is on self-sufficiency and case management. More details on what may be offered are below.
To help address and solve the issue of hunger in Mercer County, and to help the ever-growing number of residents who are forced to decide each month whether to buy food or pay the rent, HomeFront's Food Pantry distributes hundreds of emergency bags of free groceries. This is for the needy in the region, including low-income families and senior citizens.
Dedicated HomeFront staff and a number of volunteers also coordinate the delivery of hot meals prepared by churches, area congregations and community groups. The agency may also offer Christmas assistance programs, such as holiday parties or gifts for children. They depend on donations as well as community financial support to keep the shelves of the food pantry fully stocked. Food and groceries is obtained from the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, the federal government USDA surplus, and local food drives.
In addition to this food, HomeFront offers donated clothing and household items to income qualified working poor families. This will ensure that everyone has what they need to create and maintain a home.
HomeFront works to provide people in need with immediate necessities, such as housing, food, and clothing. Those concerns are certainly still a priority, but they also work pro-actively on the prevention of homelessness in Mercer County.
The community action agency will offer programming to address the entire spectrum of problems that cause families to both become and remain homeless. They work to solve issues like unemployment, substance abuse, prevent evictions, education, and a host of others.
With the goal of preventing homelessness and evictions from occurring in the first place, HomeFront provides emergency funds for back rent, paying security deposits, and utilities. This may include a combination of government grants or zero percent rate loans. The non-profit may also provide transitional housing, employment skills training, and one-on-one help with looking for a job, getting hired, and interviewing practice.
The working poor and their families are always vulnerable, particularly in these troubled times. Many are currently unemployed and unable to pay rent or utility bills on time. A good number don't meet the criteria for receiving public benefits or government assistance, so they have no safety net to fall back on. As a result of this, many become homeless.
HomeFront's FreshStart Program is committed to ensuring that every family with children has some form of shelter by providing short-term housing to homeless low-income families. Currently, the agency operates low income apartments, and they are making arrangements to secure additional living quarters for the homeless as the need arises.
Providing the basic need of shelter, backed up with support services such as counseling for the entire extended family gives families needed stability while they regain financial self-sufficiency. Helping families find, and pay the rent on permanent homes is the ultimate FreshStart goal.
The Family Preservation Center has provided temporary emergency housing to hundreds of homeless women, single parents and mothers with children. Located in a former dormitory, the center’s family care workers, case managers and Children's Program staff work as a team to create a structured environment.
This is done so that guests are able to focus on setting attainable goals, such as finding permanent housing, obtaining employment, finishing school, or gain access to job training. They provide any and all support services needed to ensure that families are successful at moving on to the next step in life, partnering with other local agencies to provide services that include Classes in Life Skills and Parenting; Counseling: Domestic Violence, Substance Abuse, Mental Health; G.E.D. or Computer Training; and Housing Assistance.
HomeFront's Permanent Affordable Housing works to renovate apartment units and houses so that they are comfortable, safe, secure homes for low-income families. The program currently maintains dozens of housing units across Mercer County.
Regardless of what individuals earn as a form of income, families that are placed in the housing never pay more than 30 percent of their total household salary for rent. For many families, they put what is out of reach within reach, providing quality of life, dignity, and long term stability.
Case management is for those families that need guidance in regard to raising their children in healthy, positive environments. They provide children from low income families as well as their parents with any and all opportunities, including access to higher education, employment, and community relationships that are healthy and positive. It goes far beyond addressing housing and hunger.
They coordinate education practices and instructional materials. The HomeFront WorkFirst GED and Work Readiness Programs strive for relevance and excellence in the current working environment. All offices of the non-profit offer qualified clients with professional development and advanced education programming in order to provide multi-faceted instruction for education and workforce skill preparation.
Some aspects of the educational programs include Valuable Life-Skill Instruction, Appropriate Curriculum, and Work-Readiness, such as basic computer training, Microsoft Office Certification, and more.
The programs are designed to give clients the most effective information, tools, and skills to enter the workforce and develop into productive members of the community. Many factors need to come together to promote success, so they provide programming and instruction in regard to acquiring skills for maintaining and securing employment in New Jersey.
Case managers work with clients on developing time-specific plans and goals, and gaining basic computer and literacy skills. Each client is assigned a caseworker who evaluates and helps in resolving any existing problems and issues. Intensive and creative case management is key to the fundamental success of the client.
HomeFront consistently strives to provide clients with a comprehensive program of support and guidance. All resources were designed to help them remain employed and self-sufficient. This can go a long ways towards preventing homelessness in the community.
For more details on services, HomeFront is based at 1880 Princeton Ave., Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648-4518. Call 609-989-9417 for intake.
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