Helping to serve the homeless in Ocean County year round
During this years statewide Point-In-Time survey which counts Jerseys homeless population, the Non-Profit Ocean County Hunger Relief continues their year round outreach to those seeking the necessities.
Providing free clothes and food are just some of what's offered to the homeless from this organization and Executive Director Carol Latif explains that it's also about making sure they get the word out there about these things.
"Getting the word out is very important," said Latif.
However she says homelessness in Ocean County isn't heading in a positive direction.
"It's getting worse, a lot of people are losing jobs companies are downsizing the amount of hours...so they're cutting the overtime," said Latif. "Things also hit hard following Sandy where the rents are going up and there is less housing."
Things continue to get worse, she adds, so a lot of people need help.
How do you know if someone is homeless? Latif explains that it's not as easy to recognize as you may think.
"You can have the person standing right next to you and you wouldn't even know they're homeless," said Latif.
Sometimes it's people who have a job but they're living in their car, explains Latif, because they don't have enough income rolling in to afford rent.
There's other reasons why people become homeless as well.
"There are people on disability which doesn't pay very much," said Latif. "They have money that comes in but they only have funds for part of the month, so they'll put themselves up in a motel and the other half of the month they're on the streets."
As a non-profit organization she says they offer services to help the homeless get back on their feet.
The Point-In-Time Survey which takes place every January helps count the homeless population in New Jersey to determine the need for public and private financial aid.
There are some homeless Latif explains who don't want any help or attention.
"I can't help anybody that doesn't want to change and doesn't want to get out of the situation," said Latif. "My take is there's plenty of them who want to get out, let's focus on those people."
She adds that usually the people who don't want any assistance tell her they're set in their ways and aren't looking to change.
For those who do seek shelter Latif adds that one of the things the homeless people need the most is to be loved.
"They need to be loved and cared for," said Latif. "They need to understand that they're just like everybody else."
Some people unfairly judge the look of a homeless person, she adds, which isn't right because they don't know what sort of trauma that individual has endured or how they became homeless.