A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Economy Hits Battered Women in Monmouth County

Manna House has completed two years of difficult negotiations with Monmouth County on the provision of transitional housing for homeless women and their children under ever-worsening economic circumstances. Manna House has agreed to "operate at higher capacity" in an arrangement worked out with Monmouth County officials, according to a rather nebulous Monmouth County press release. The deal involves some sort of "merger" between Manna House and Spring House, a similar transitional housing operation that has served Eatontown since 1990.

I have lots of questions. Is Spring House closing in this arrangement? It's unclear. The press release speaks of a county transitional housing facility called Linkages that will take the portion of homeless that an expanded Manna House cannot handle. That sounds ominous for the continued operation of Spring House. The reprise of operations by the spokesman for Spring House also suggests an ending there. So what's the story? What were the financial considerations? The budget changes? What is the new status for each of the private institutions? And what's the new role of the county facility?  It isn't spelled out, but I suspect a significant reduction in county and/or state funding, on top of a likely shortfall in private donations, has prompted what can optimistically be called a consolidation.

This press release appears at a radio station website, Matawan-Aberdeen Patch, and the Atlantic Highlands Herald website, as well as a host of other sites. But its prevalence doesn't help us understand what is really going on here. Repeated presentations of what the county wants us to know isn't analysis. I hope someone does some digging because something's not right here. These facilities have insured the safety and security of battered women and their children for twenty years, so our community should be sure this new arrangement is proper and well thought out.

These changes begin 1 September 2011.

UPDATE 20 August 2011: I just noticed that The Independent offered its own version of this story on 11 August. They interviewed a Monmouth County official who explained that county-wide requests for transitional housing are down over 25% because victims are unwilling to enter the county's long-term care program. The number of domestic violence victims is surely on the rise in these troubled times, not falling, so perhaps the numbers of requests are down because of the county's program? Anyone who reads the region's papers knows that women are being found dead on the side of the Garden State Parkway as victims of domestic violence, so things aren't 25% better. Are you kidding me?

Spring House families will move to Manna House on 1 September and all referrals from Monmouth County will be directed to Manna House as the primary provider of transitional housing. No one will say it outright, but Spring House is being merged out of existence. Its parent corporation is left to "explore other ways" to serve the homeless. At least we learned that much from the local press. More than a few details remain.

1 comment:

  1. I've updated this article on Manna House. I welcome additional information in comments or by email.