Bergen County creates task force to target homelessness among young adults

HACKENSACK, N.J. — An executive order was signed Thursday to establish the Young Adult Homelessness Task Force, aimed at providing support to adults aged 18 to 24 in the arena of mental and physical health, job training, affordable housing and more.

"It takes a village, or in this case a county, and working together we can ensure we are offering a full complement of services in a more efficient way than any one agency or government could do on its own," said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, who signed the executive order.

The task force will include representatives from the Department of Health, Human Services, Christ Church, New Bridge Medical Center, Bergen Community College, The Center for Food Action and more. Plus, the group will take input from a special council of the young adults who are or have been on the receiving end of such services. Young adults like 24-year-old Allen Humphries.

"I felt welcome and I felt safe," Humphries said about his experience with county services after a family feud led to his homelessness.

"I was then forced to couch surf and roam the streets at night in order to have some warmth," he recalled.

Today, Humphries said his life is much different. He has somewhere warm to sleep, thanks to the county homeless shelter in Hackensack.

“Nobody plans on becoming homeless," said Freeholder Chairman Tom Sullivan. "Circumstances sometimes work against individuals and they find themselves without a permanent roof over their heads."

Bergen County's move to end homelessness for young adults comes after the recent success of being named a 'functional zero' community, meaning that the county has effectively succeeded at ending veteran and chronic homelessness within the community at-large.

“We are fortunate to have a great network of government and nonprofit partners who have been integral to our success with ending veteran and chronic homelessness, and these relationships will be key to tackling the unique challenges that come with the 18 to 24-year old population,” said County Executive James J. Tedesco.