NJ's Homeless Now Includes Women and Families
Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with Sakinah Hoyte, Director of Project Connect at Bridges Outreach, to discuss the current homeless situation in Essex County.
"Sakinah Hoyte is the Director of Project Connect at Bridges Outreach. Good to see you Sakinah. Thanks for having me. What is Project Connect? Project Connect is a program that we just implemented at Bridges Outreach about 2 years ago. We decided that we wanted to be a little bit more impactful. We've been around for 28 years doing street outreach. Going out into the community. New York City, Newark, Irivington. Handing out brown bag lunches, soup. Just your necessities to get you through the night. For people who are homeless. Yes. And the number of people who are chronically homeless has gone up dramatically in this area. Yes. Tremendously. We're looking at about 126% since last year. In Essex county specifically, we have seen an increase... 47 households. 56 people. Every year, there's a count that's done in the last week of January around the country. Right. And we found that the numbers have increased. And so this series of photos we're going to see, these are part of Project Connect. Yes. What's the idea behind them? Well, we have a supporter... Helen Frank. She's a well known artist in the community. She decided that we should put together an art program for our homeless clients and so we partnered with the New York Arts Counsel and also photographer Akintola Hanif. He is in charge of the magazine "HYCIDE" in New York. Right. Yes, and so he taught our clients how to take photographs. And so, by the way, we were just looking at the Saint John's soup kitchen which is where you're located, right? Yes. Team, we have more photos to show? Let's show a couple other photos if we could okay? As we're showing these photos... This is what they see. This is through their lens. That's near Penn Station, I know that well. Mm hmm. And they're living there? Living there. This is their community. These are people that they invest their time with that help them to get through the hard times. You said to me before we got on the air Sakinah, that you truly believe as we look at these pictures that if we wanted to, we could eliminate homelessness. Absolutely. How? Absolutely. There are cities throughout the United States that are making incredible strides in ending homelessness. Umm, Housing First... I'm not sure if you've heard of it, but basically the idea is that you take a homeless individual. Instead of putting them in a shelter and then transitioning them into transitional housing, you just put them into housing and then you wrap around all of the services that they need. There's a cost benefit to it. In Kansas City, they did a study in 2014. They housed over 100 people, homeless individuals. People with substance abuse issues. People with mental health illness. And then they provided services..."