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HomenewsA New Measure in New Jersey Would Provide Emergency Medical Attention to...

A New Measure in New Jersey Would Provide Emergency Medical Attention to Anyone Staying in Homeless Shelters

Yvonne Lopez, a Democrat representing Middlesex County in the New Jersey Assembly, has introduced legislation that would make it legal for mental health professionals to give care to those in need who are residing at emergency homeless shelters.

Mary Gay Abbott-Young, president of The Rescue Mission of Trenton and spokesman for The Shelters Providers Consortium, noted that most persons who join the emergency shelter system have a variety of issues, all of which are compounded by homelessness.

People in NJ homeless shelters would receive immediate care, under proposed bill

The Consortium is an organisation that supports homeless shelters and encourages partnerships between them, local governments, and communities.

She emphasised that a lifetime of poverty typically follows the trauma of experiencing homelessness and finding shelter.

“Many of people who come in also report mental health and substance use disorder problems that interfere with their ability to locate housing and perform the things necessary to keep housing,” Abbott-Young added.

Because of the constant crises that these people face, she said, it is imperative that they receive quick care at these shelters.

Where they will sleep, eat, and live are three of the most fundamental questions they need answered right away.

If we want to help people, we have to be able to react quickly to their needs. Services delayed are services denied, Abbott-Young said, referring to the target group.

In other words, there is a population of homeless people with pressing needs, and the community as a whole is ill-equipped to address them. She explained that they are coordinating with the state to develop a strategy for providing essential relief to the homeless.

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She mentioned that medication would be the first thing that would need to be provided. It could be medication for substance abuse, or it could be medication for anxiety, sadness, or something else entirely.

And finally, we want to see a person brought into a system that can begin to assist them in the long-term with challenges with behavioural health concerns,” Abbott-Young added.

People in NJ homeless shelters would receive immediate care, under proposed bill

She expressed concern over who would pay for these programmes if the proposal became law. She did note, though, that they count themselves lucky to be working with behavioural health and shelter providers that make good use of existing resources and allocate some of the available funds creatively, while also identifying gaps that necessitate further investment.

To make mental health care more accessible to this group, we will need to work together, but we realise that we can only do so much. They are working together to attempt to establish that system, and we couldn’t be happier about it,” she added, referring to the state, the behavioural health network, and the shelter providers.

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On Thursday, the bill was approved by the whole Assembly and is now before the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens.

The 2022 Point-In-Time Count by Monarch Housing Associates found that 8,754 individuals, including both adults and children, were homeless in California on January 25.

 

 

 

 

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