KRA and CWEP Partner Assist Customers With Housing Needs

Recently, 45 adults and youth enrolled in KRA’s Camden, New Jersey multi-service education, training, and employment program attended a workshop on accessing subsidized housing opportunities.  Anita Davis, KRA Program Manager, coordinated the event with Diane Johnson, Supervisor of the KRA Community Work Experience Program at McGuire Gardens, a State-supported, non-Section 8, public housing residence. Davis reported, “According to our intake statistics, almost 45 percent of our customers are facing a serious barrier…homelessness or inadequate housing.  Some live in temporary housing in a motel or a shelter; others live in overcrowded homes with family members or friends.  I thought a workshop on the issue could be the beginning of a resolution to the problem, especially since a large part of the problem is lack of information and resources.”

With Davis, KRA Career Agents David Bell, Karen Darby, and Ria Watkins, and 30 TANF, six GA/SNAP, and 10 OSY customers attended the workshop that was facilitated by Christine Tinsley, Supervisor, Camden County Board of Housing, an expert on who gets approved, and who doesn’t, for public or Section 8 housing.  She discussed eligibility criteria, availability of units, required documents, the response time required to be considered, as well as how and when to apply, and how employment, or at least evidence of progress toward employment, assists in being approved.  Tinsley also shared information on how applicants are evaluated to receive a unit, such as the number of units set aside for the homeless, veterans, the employed, and those on public assistance looking for employment.  Davis commented, “One of our customers said to me ‘Out of all the programs I’ve been in, nobody has ever helped me get an understanding of why I wasn’t approved for housing.  Now I know what I need to do to get help’.”

 KRA customers asked lots of questions, some related to individual situations, and some concerned with the critical lack of public housing units in Camden County.  On the latter, they were informed on how to contact their congressman for assistance with housing issues, in an attempt to promote legislative changes.  Also, customers received information on three new facilities being built in the County, projected to be completed in the Fall of 2012.  Davis concluded, “I am delighted to report that by the end of the workshop, four of our TANF customers received news that they were among the top 50 applicants, on a wait-list of over a thousand people, to receive housing this year.  And, the other customers were placed on the list for the new facilities that are being built this year.  Ms. Tinsley was so astonished by some of the stories she heard, she offered to present more workshops for present and future KRA customers, so we have plans to convene another one in late March.  Together, we are looking forward to making real progress in this area.”