Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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.

Free Tax Assistance for Working Families in Mercer County

By Engy Shaaban

The Mercer Creating Assets, Savings and Hope Campaign (CASH) has partnered with United Way of Greater Mercer County (UWGMC) to offer expanded free tax prep services in Mercer County as part of the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

VITA offers free tax services to individuals whose annual income is $65,000 or less. The program provides other services in addition to the free tax prep including assistance filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), credit counseling, and debt management services.

There are IRS-certified volunteers at all tax sites who are trained in basic tax law. Many locations have volunteers who speak other languages and can assist those who have difficulty communicating in English, as well. You can call 211 or visit nj211.org to find a free tax return preparation site, a full list of New Jersey tax prep locations, and a link for the UWGMC site to schedule an appointment. The majority of the sites, which are listed below, run on a walk-in, first come, first serve basis.

It is worth noting that this year if you are claiming EITC credit, the returns will not be processed until February 15, 2017. This delay will cause the refunds not to be available for at least two weeks later. Be aware of offers claiming that they can complete these returns earlier. Those making such offers cannot submit them and may actually be offering you a loan, instead.

If you are planning to visit any of the sites listed below, you will need to bring the following: picture ID; Social Security Cards (or ITINs) and dates of birth for the taxpayer, spouse, children, and any other dependents you are claiming. Please note that if you are married but filing separately from your spouse, you will also need your spouse’s social security number.

You will also need dates of birth for all taxpayers and dependents, W2 forms, a year-end pay stub, and 1099 forms.

Likewise, you will be asked to present a statement with unemployment amounts paid and taxes withheld, your last paystub or end of year pension statements, ACA healthcare forms 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095 C and insurance information with months of coverage for each person in the household and records of related medical expenses (totaled).

You will also be asked to provide statements that record charitable contributions of $250 or more (also totaled), rent or mortgage interest statements, and property tax information. Finally, a copy of your last income tax return, bank account and routing number will be needed.

Click here to learn more.

Mercer County 2016 Point-In-Time Count Summary

By Engy Shaaban

Every year, New Jersey conducts a Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of its homeless population. This provides us with statewide estimates of the number of homeless households in our communities and information about where these individuals find shelter, the different factors that contribute to their homelessness, and their current needs. All NJ counties also conduct a similar count within each municipality. The following is a comprehensive summary of the 2016 Mercer County PIT Count, conducted on the night of January 26th, 2016.

Homeless Families and Individuals
On the night of January 26th, a total of 380 households, including 465 individuals, were experiencing homelessness in Mercer County. This is a decrease of 113 households (22.9 percent) and 135 individuals (22.5 percent) from 2015. On the night of the count, families composed of 131 individuals were living in emergency shelters, 37 families were in transitional housing, and ten were in transitional housing programs. There were no unsheltered families identified on the night of the count. These numbers illustrate a 17.5 percent decrease in homelessness among families compared to 2015.

Demographics
There were 38 (8.2 percent) homeless adults between the ages of 18 and 24, 344 (74 percent) adults were over the age of 24, and 17.8 percent of those found to be experiencing homelessness were under the age of 18.

Individuals With Disabilities, Victims of Domestic Violence and Veterans
Of the total number of homeless individuals, 48 percent reported having some type of disability. 56.5 percent of adults reported some type of disability compared to 7.2 percent of children. Among disabled adults, 53.2 percent reported a substance abuse disorder, making this the most prevalent disability (30.1 percent of all homeless adults). Half of disabled homeless children reported a developmental disability. On the night of the count, 34 homeless households identified as victims of domestic violence. The report concludes that a total of 47 homeless individuals, who were members of these households, were impacted. A total of 15 homeless veterans were counted on the night of the count, 51.6 percent less than in 2015. This dramatic decrease reflects the efforts of a state and countywide initiative to decrease homelessness among veterans.

Income and Benefits
Of all the homeless households reported on the night of the count, 53.9 percent had no source of income. The majority of respondents reported receiving non-cash benefits on the night of the count, food stamps being the most widely received benefit (received by 30.8 percent of households). In regards to health care coverage, 48.9 percent of households were receiving Medicaid, and 7.1 percent were receiving Medicare.

Length of Homelessness
When asked about the period of time that they have been homeless, 145 of respondents reported that their most recent, continuous episode of homelessness had lasted from one day to one week, 107 reported homelessness between eight days and one month, and 33 had been homeless between 31 days and three months. In total, this means that 285 households reported they had been homeless for less than 3 months. 35 households reported they had been homeless for more than one year. This is a 47.8 percent decrease from 2015.

Cause of Homelessness
When asked about what may have contributed to, or caused, their homelessness, the most common factor that households attributed it to was being asked to leave a shared residence (25.5 percent), followed by eviction (14.5 percent).

Chronic Homelessness
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a “chronically homeless individual” as “someone with a long-term disabling condition, who has been continually homeless for a year or more, or at least four times in the past three years” and/or a family with one adult that meets this definition. According to the count, 20 households, made up of 20 individuals, were chronically homeless in Mercer County. This is a 73.3 percent decrease from 2015. Over the past five years, while the numbers have fluctuated, the total number of chronically homeless individuals has decreased overall by 67.7 percent. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of unsheltered chronically homeless individuals decreased from 64 to 18; the sheltered chronically homeless population decreased from 11 to two.

Unsheltered Homelessness

HUD defines an “unsheltered homeless individual” as any individual or family “with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, or camping ground.”

According to the count, 44 individuals were living unsheltered in Mercer County. These numbers represent a decrease 61 households and individuals from the 2015 statistics.

In regards to the length of homelessness, more unsheltered individuals reported that their households’ most recent continuous episode of homelessness had lasted for over a year than any other length of time (52.3 percent). In total, 70.5 percent of unsheltered households had been homeless for more than six months.

It is important to note that the report focuses primarily on individuals who meet HUD’s definition of ‘homelessness’. It does not however include information about those who may be at risk of homelessness or considered homeless under other federal statutes. It is also important to consider the count’s design. The statistics above only represent the gravity of the issue on a single night. Under counting has been and continues to be a concern of the HUD which recognizes that during cold weather, like that of late January, additional services and sheltering are provided, making numbers like those for “unsheltered homelessness” significantly lower.

The issue of homelessness is far more complex than the statistics that we have included. We share these numbers as a snapshot and we hope that the information included in this summary acts as an incentive to approach the problem with continued persistence in community like Trenton and others across the state and the nation.

The official Mercer County PIT count report can be found at http://monarchhousing.org.