A-TEAM Artists to Display Work at Capital Health in Hopewell

By Jared Kofsky

The Trenton Community A-TEAM’s Stockton 51 gallery. Photo by Jared Kofsky/The Wall.

The Trenton Community A-TEAM (TCAT) has become an institution in New Jersey’s capital city. From giving local artists a venue to paint and perform to holding events for local residents and visitors out of its studio on North Stockton Street to providing artwork for each issue of The Wall, TCAT stands as a pillar of the Trenton community.

However, for many years, residents of the suburbs surrounding the city were unaware of the organization’s existance. That too is beginning to change as the work of TCAT artists, many of whom have experienced homelessness and/or poverty, continues to be put on display in galleries and museums across Central New Jersey.

Flyer for the Trenton Community A-TEAM’s upcoming show at Capital Health Regional Medical Center – Hopewell. Credit Hopewell Valley Arts Council.

Soon, residents of Hopewell Township and neighboring communities who visit Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell will be greeted by artwork from the A-TEAM. The hospital, which is located off of Interstate 95 at Exit 3B, will hold the ‘A is for Art. T is for Team’ exhibition in partnership with the Hopewell Valley Arts Council (HVAC) from March 1 through May 21. A variety of pieces will be on display on the second floor’s Investors Bank Art & Healing Gallery.

An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on from 6:00pm to 7:30pm on Thursday, March 1, according to the HVAC. During the event, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen’s band, The FunkTASKtiks, will perform while attendees browse the 51 pieces that were selected for display.

The FunkTASKtiks rehearse at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Photo by Jared Kofsky/The Wall.

To learn more, call Capital Health at (609) 303-4000.

Are you looking to find housing, food, and/or clothing in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, or other Mercer County communities? You can now pick up the Winter 2017-18 edition of The Wall at dozens of sites throughout the region. The newspaper’s resource guide features a variety of local organizations and agencies that are ready to serve you.

HomeFront Headquarters to Hold Open House

By Jared Kofsky

A student from The College of New Jersey helps stock the shelves at HomeFront in Lawrence Township during a CEL (Community Engaged Learning) Day. Photo by Jared Kofsky.

This week, Mercer County residents will get the opportunity to learn more about the services offered by a major local organization.

HomeFront, which serves residents of the capital region who are experiencing homelessness and/or poverty from its office in Trenton’s East Trenton Center, its Family Campus in Ewing Township, the Lawrence Community Center, the FreeStore in Trenton’s Chambersburg neighborhood, and its headquarters facility in Lawrence Township, has been operating in this community for well over two decades. The group, which is a community partner of The College of New Jersey’s Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research, offers resources and services such as a food pantry, emergency housing, transitional housing, affordable housing, ArtSpace, SewingSpace, Furnish the Future, and more.

Now, those interested in finding out more about the services that are offered by HomeFront will have another opportunity to do so. The organization will hold an open house called ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’ this Tuesday, February 13th, according to the Trenton Health Team. From 4:00pm to 7:00pm, attendees will be able to tour the headquarters facility at 1880 Princeton Avenue near the Brunswick Circle in Lawrence Township. The building is is accessible from New Jersey Transit’s 606 bus. From 4:00pm to 7:00pm, visitors can meet the staff at HomeFront along with the Board of Directors and local volunteers. Information will be available in regards to signing up for services from the organization.

Are you looking to find housing, food, and/or clothing in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, or other Mercer County communities? You can now pick up the Winter 2017-18 edition of The Wall at dozens of sites throughout the region. The newspaper’s resource guide features a variety of local organizations and agencies that are ready to serve you.


Free Lunch to be Served in East Trenton

By Jared Kofsky

As freezing temperatures continue to impact the capital region, Trenton residents and families experiencing homelessness will be welcome to come inside for a hot meal this weekend. 

Although most soup kitchens and food pantries in the Trenton area are closed on Saturdays and Sundays,  a church in the East Trenton neighborhood will open its doors on Saturday, February 10th to offer lunch to people experiencing homelessness. The Church of Christ, located within a 15 minute walk of the Rescue Mission of Trenton at 411 North Clinton Avenue, will be collaborating with the Allentown Presbyterian Church (APC) in suburban Monmouth County in order to serve this late morning meal.

According to the APC’s website, doors will open at 10:30am. Items will include salads and fruit packs, and clothing might also be available to residents who come early.

Are you looking to find housing, food, and/or clothing in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, or other Mercer County communities? You can now pick up the Winter 2017-18 edition of The Wall at dozens of sites throughout the region. The newspaper’s resource guide features a variety of local organizations and agencies that are ready to serve you.

A Special Announcement from The Wall

By Jared Kofsky

For eight years, The Wall has been published by Bonner Community Scholars at The College of New Jersey with and for individuals experiencing homelessness in Trenton and surrounding communities in Mercer County, New Jersey. Since our first issue was released in 2010, we have been providing our readers with a guide to local resources, news about local organizations, information about laws impacting residents experiencing homelessness, op-ed pieces, human interest stories, artwork, poetry, and more. 

Currently, we are distributing the 2017-18 issue of our publication to dozens of libraries, soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries across the capital region.  This issue, which can also be viewed here, features a profile of the Trenton Community A-TEAM’s Demond Williams, an update on the issues affecting Trenton’s water supply, two pieces by columnist Essence Scott, a look behind the scenes of The Salvation Army’s Mobile Canteen, a preview of the Rescue Mission of Trenton’s upcoming shared living space for women experiencing homelessness, information about RISE in Hightstown, and an exclusive report about a father and son reuniting outside of a Trenton shelter.

However, the latest edition of The Wall that can now be found throughout Mercer County and eastern Bucks County is also the last edition of The Wall.  Fortunately, although the name that this publication has used since the first issues were distributed nearly a decade ago is coming to an end, the content that you have come to expect from us is not going away. In fact, there will soon be even more of it.

The team behind The Wall is excited to announce that we are officially changing our name to The Streetlight. The changing of our name, which was approved by our Editorial Board in November 2017, will also come with a new website, a new email address, a new logo, a new resource guide, community events, and more! Stay tuned for the Summer 2018 edition of The Streetlight and for additional announcements coming your way.

As always, we welcome your involvement in what is now The Streetlight. To learn more about joining our publication, click here.

The Wall is becoming The Streetlight. Here is a first look at our new logo.

From Lead to Leaks: Problems Continue With Trenton’s Water

By Annette Espinoza, Jared Kofsky & Joshua Trifari

How is lead contamination impacting Trenton residents? Over a year after high levels of lead were found in the water of most of the capital’s public schools, the answer to that question remains unclear.

In recent years, there have been widespread concerns across the United States with aging infrastructure, particularly in regards to lead levels in the water supply systems and paint in some of the nation’s metropolitan areas. In 2014, over 100,000 residents of Flint, Michigan, a small city that like Trenton, was once a riverside industrial powerhouse, were discovered to have been exposed to excessive levels of lead.

“This is an issue that has been on people’s radars for decades,” Jane Rosenblatt, a program manager at Downtown Trenton-based New Jersey Future, told The Wall in the spring. However, as a result of the recent revelations, ”people are starting to pay attention to some of the daily impacts of our antiquated water infrastructure, so we’re likely to see something happening in the coming years as far as investments,” she explained.

In the years that followed, New Jersey schools began to test their drinking water for high lead levels, and the results in some districts shocked many parents. In the state’s largest city, dozens of schools were found to have elevated levels of lead, prompting Newark students to be forced to drink from bottled water.

A few weeks later, according to The Trentonian, Trenton Water Works General Superintendent Joseph McIntyre testified that “we don’t have a lead issue” in Trenton, and that “we’ve never had a leadbased problem here in the water.”

However, in October 2016, it was revealed that in 20 of Trenton’s older school buildings, including Daylight/Twilight Alternative High School and Grant Elementary School, there were levels of lead in the water that were above the US Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended guidelines.

The extent of the problem in New Jersey’s cities today is quite unclear. Rosenblatt stated some cities contain water mains “that can date back to the Civil War,” and that part of the reason why many recent discoveries of water contamination have been in cities is because ”urban centers are where some of our oldest infrastructure is.”

In response to these crises, several New Jersey organizations and agencies are calling for improvements.

Rosenblatt is one of the leaders of Jersey Water Works, a 300-member statewide organization dedicated to upgrading New Jersey’s wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater infrastructure. Members range from local organizations like Isles to engineering films, according to Rosenblatt, who stated that ultimate goal is “investing in cost-effective sustainable solutions that benefit the communities served by these systems.”

Jersey Water Works has partnered with New Jersey Urban Mayors Association to develop policy recommendations as to how to best update water infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Environment New Jersey is also seeking similar improvements to prevent future crises. Doug O’Malley, the organization’s director, stated that “obviously, most people can’t shell out the thousands of dollars that you can use to replace it, but a lot of what we want to do is start up with testing to be able to expose the extent of the problem and then use long-term state funding to try to ultimately replace our pipes.” 

O’Malley cited Madison, Wisconsin and Seattle, Washington as examples of places that are currently “getting this right.”

Yet what actions are being taken right now to keep residents safe in Trenton, and should residents continue to trust that their tap water is reliable?

A hydrologist in the United States Geological Survey’s New Jersey Water Science Center who asked not to be identified told The Wall that “the USGS hasn’t collected any samples of water quality from the Trenton water system that I know of,” and that he does not know whether or not there is significant lead in the city’s water.

“Most, if not all, drinking water in Trenton comes from the Delaware River and does not have detectable lead concentrations when it enters, much less leaves, the water treatment plant on Route 29,” the hydrologist stated, adding that “any lead in water in Trenton is likely derived from the municipal (under-the street) pipes and/or building plumbing.”

This means that it is largely up to the individual building or shelter to test whether their water is safe to drink and that organizations should replace old copper pipes or lead pipes with new lead-free solder copper pipes while covering or removing lead paint.

So what can you do for now to see if your water is safe to drink? In order to find contaminants, the hydrologist and Rosenblatt recommended that you run the water for at least 45 seconds to a few minutes before drinking it. If you notice discolored water, you should advise water or building officials.

However, some New Jersey leaders feel that tackling the lead in the water is just the beginning of the solution to improving the state’s infrastructure. “

Yes we have to address the lead in our pipes, and that’s obviously a concern, but we want a more comprehensive approach to infrastructure investment than that,” said Dan Fatton of the Ewing Township-based NJ Work Environment Council and the recently established Jersey Renews environmental campaign. “We know that we have to invest big money into our pipes underground but also in the things that we see above ground like sidewalks and schools and other buildings,” he added.

The need for investment in infrastructure in New Jersey’s capital became evident on May 6, when a water main break caused another flood, this time in the Wilbur Section. One unexpected consequence of the damage caused by the incident was displacement for residents in the community.

As The Trentonian reported, the Fleming family was forced to leave their residence following the hurricane-like flooding, as were other homeowners and renters in the area. According to Julie Janis of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, many clients of hers who are experiencing homelessness were previously renters, but were forced to leave the properties that they called home following unsafe living conditions inside, such as pipe bursts and structural damage.

Like the individuals behind Jersey Renews, New Jersey’s non-profit organizations are building up to improve the environment of cities like Trenton, a goal that, according to Fatton, “is incredibly ambitious but eminently doable.” However, considering the crisis of elevated lead levels and other issues facing cities across the state and the country right now, the question is, will that be enough?

This story will continue to be updated as the conditions of Trenton’s water supply change.

Photo by Jared Kofsky

Written with and for individuals experiencing homelessness in the Trenton, New Jersey area.