The difficult economy is already causing most counties to run on bare minimum, however individuals not able to scrimp any more could find themselves on the street—with the county having substantially less (if any) resources to spend on caring for the increasing amount of homeless.

The Atlantic City Mission’s lawsuit against Ocean County has come to the forefront over the problem of county-based human service programs being under funded (or non existent) and leaving homeless residents high and dry.

Currently when a homeless person needs assistance, they are usually referred to a county’s Social Services agency which operates the various programs that are available. That can mean anything from a homeless shelter, placing residents in a hotel or motels overnight, or distributing any kind of vouchers for food and other necessities. However the rising costs of care and lodging are forcing the counties to cut programs either partially or entirely- right as they are needed the most.

In the case of the Atlantic City Mission, it claims Ocean County (which does not have a homeless shelter of its own) sent numerous of homeless residents to them, all the while not compensating the care. Forcing people to be denied when they arrive and the Mission is full, ultimately returning back to where they came.

State Senator Sam Thompson, who sits on Committee for Human and Senior Services as well as on the Joint Committee for Housing Affordability notes there is no legislation on a state level to require counties to provide minimum’s for homeless care.

Thompson isn’t aware if state wide studies on homelessness have been, but wouldn’t be opposed to seeing if something like that exists. Though says he wouldn’t be opposed to reviewing the model and seeing if something more efficient could be utilized.

For Thompson the crux of the problem is counties are just too cash strapped, and the way to resolve that is to get people employed.

”We need to get more people back to work so that more people are paying taxes, and more revenue is coming in that available to help those that are in need.”

Opponents of statewide policies argue it will put a constraint on counties by creating a “one size fits all” approach, however Thompson believes the legislation could be both universal and flexible.

“You could have a one size fits all in terms of what kind of options should be available. Within the perspective of that, you look at the individual cases, to see which of these options is available to an individual or family or so on.”