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HomeFront panel to discuss what poverty, homelessness looks like in 2022

What do poverty and homelessness look like in 2022? What can be done to help the working poor and the homeless?

HomeFront is holding a panel discussion Dec. 1 to answer those questions and to explain how it helps families break out of the cycle of poverty. It will be held at Labyrinth Books at 122 Nassau St. in Princeton at 6 p.m.

The hour-long panel discussion caps HomeFront’s participation in the annual National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which was held Nov. 11-19. The Lawrence Township-based nonprofit group helps the homeless and the working poor.

Through its participation in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, HomeFront encourages people to learn more about its work and to better understand the challenges some Mercer County families are facing.

The discussion panelists include local poverty experts, affordable housing advocates and others, who will talk about the interventions that really help families break out of the cycle of poverty, HomeFront officials said.

HomeFront provides housing – both emergency shelters and long-term, affordable rental housing. It also provides job training to the homeless who are looking for a way out of poverty, as well as other services, such as a food pantry and enrichment programs for children.

Panelists will discuss why HomeFront’s wrap-around approach works to help families to get back on their feet and what community members can do to also help.

The panelists include Celia Bernstein, CEO of Homes by TLC; Sheila Addison, the director of HomeFront’s Family Preservation Center; Charles Wallace, director of Hire Expectations; Catherine Cozzi, director of HomeFront’s Resource Network; and Chris Marchetti, director of the Joys, Hopes and Dreams program for children.

Homes by TLC is a partner organization to HomeFront. It provides permanent affordable housing to clients, along with wrap-around services that include food, case management and children’s programs. The renters receive on-going help, tailored to their needs and goals, officials said.

The Family Preservation Center accommodates 38 families. The parents learn life skills, such as budgeting and parenting skills, plus job training and career development to help them find work. The kitchen provides hands-on training in cooking and nutrition.

The Hire Expectations program offers online and on-site training for Microsoft Office and careers in customer service, childcare and the hospitality industry. Clients receive help in job placement, in addition to mentoring and training.

HomeFront’s Resource Network provides furniture and related necessities to help clients furnish their apartment; a food pantry; and a “free store, which offers donated small household and clothing items.”

The Joys, Hopes and Dreams program for children offers homework help and cultural enrichment, officials said. The children are connected to the social, cultural and educational opportunities in the greater community.

Sarah Steward, HomeFront’s CEO, said an important part of its mission is to help families that are experiencing homelessness to advocate for themselves – individually and collectively.

For more information about the panel discussion and to reserve a seat, visit www.homefrontnj.org.

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