Bridges Outreach Seeks to Help NJ's Homeless
As a part of our "Newark at a Crossroads" series, taped at NJIT, Steve Adubato sits down with Sakinah Hoyte, Director of Project Connect at Bridges Outreach, to discuss the current homeless situation in Essex County.
"Sakinah Hoyte is 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. Bridges Outreach, about two years ago, we decided that we wanted to be a little bit more impact, we were... we've been around for 28 years doing street outreach, going out into the community, New York City, Newark, Irvington, hanging out bag... 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, gone up dramatically in this area? Yes, tremendously. We're at... we're looking at about 126% since the last year in Essex County specifically. We have seen an increase, 47 households, 56 people, every year, there's a count that's done the last week of January, around the country. Right. And we found that there were... the numbers have increased. And so this photo, this series of photos we're gonna see, these are part of Project Connect? Yes. What's the idea behind them? Well we have a supporter, Helen Frank, she's a artist, and a well known artist in the community, she decided that we should put together a art program for our homeless clients, and so we partnered with the Newark Arts Council and also, photographer Akintola Hanif, he is in charge of the magazine Hycide. Right. New York, yes, and so he taught our clients hot to take photographs. And so, by the way, we were just looking at the St 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 Newark Penn Station. It is. 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, and it helped 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. 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 to 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..."