CEASe: Housing Made Easy


By Khadijah Yasin

Communities across the nation have been affected by homelessness for years, with people living in shelters and others in the streets. The Trenton area is no exception to this reality, where a large percentage of its people living without a place to call home, many for long periods at a time. Fortunately, Trenton and Mercer County have developed programs and initiatives to provide support for those living through the struggles and hardships of homelessness. One of these initiatives is the Coordinated Entry and Assessment System for Homeless Individuals, CEASe, which focuses its efforts on helping those in the Trenton community, in particular. The CEASe system is currently being run through the CEAS Center. This center assesses the status of individuals experiencing homelessness and acts as the point of entry into housing and permanent residency. “We’ve targeted the most vulnerable people in the [homeless] community,” says Janet Porter, the supervisor of the CEAS Center.  Those who fit the criteria that CEASe has in place are granted housing. Individuals under assessment must be chronically homeless — meaning they have been homeless for an extended period of time and/ or disabled. These mandates are set so that those who need the support urgently receive it quickly. Currently the CEAS Center receives patrons from agencies throughout Mercer County such as the Rescue Mission of Trenton, where hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness are sheltered and cared for. The CEAS Center also partners with the Mercer County Department of Human Services, the Mercer County Board of Social Services, The City of Trenton Department of Health and Human

Services, and Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness. The main priority of CEASe is to filter through potential clients, and to provide housing to those with the most need. An important aspect of the process ensures that the housing is varied for every patron and that it meets his or her individual needs. This housing is founded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Many of the patrons coming from these shelters are accustomed to the community-based settings that they promote. And for this reason, the CEAS Center and its partner organizations work to make the transition into housing an easy and comforting process for the client. To ensure a smooth transition, clients are provided with support housing. “Many of these people have to have support and it is important that we meet the client’s needs,” said Porter. Additionally, Porter explained that the homeless community has a large majority of disabled individuals — some mentally disabled and others physically disabled — who need help feeling safe and healthy. The CEAS Center works to provide support housing and services that cater to the individual needs of its clients. As of now, the CEASe initiative is still developing and taking steps to expand its efforts across the Mercer County area. According to Porter, the CEAS Center only accepts patrons who are referred to it from shelters like Rescue Mission; it also hopes to expand and help those living on the streets, as well. The organization is making strides and to ensure it continues to progress, it is being evaluated by the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).