25 Homeless Permanently Housed This Winter

Cots are set up in the Code Blue overnight shelter at Riverwood Park in Toms River. (Photo courtesy Just Believe)

  TOMS RIVER – Just Believe Inc. shared their statistics for the 2022-2023 season when they care for the homeless during the winter months, including helping 25 of them find permanent housing.

  Just Believe is a nonprofit that runs the Code Blue shelter in Riverwood Park, which opens its doors on nights when temperatures approach freezing. They were open 81 nights, according to CEO Paul Hulse. Although the park is in Toms River, the unhoused population comes from all over Ocean County.

  They had 147 different people stay for a total of 1,620 nights. But it’s not just about shelter for one night, it’s about finding out what issues they are having so that they can be referred to organizations that help. For example, there were 75 referrals for various services. There were 35 people who applied for Section 8 vouchers. Eleven people found temporary housing. A rental car was secured for one guest.

  Ten people entered a facility for substance abuse or mental health. Three went to a sober living home. Five people relocated out of state. Six found gainful employment. Nine people were denied access due to behavior or needing a higher level of care; they were instead provided emergency housing elsewhere.

  Hulse thanked Fulfill, A Need We Feed, and a number of local restaurants for providing meals. In addition to the big stuff like food and housing, there were also smaller things that helped people feel good, like getting haircuts or going bowling. Showers were provided by the YMCA.

  About 2,500 hours were spent by volunteers, he said.

  This marks “six years of Code Blue success in Ocean County,” Hulse said. These figures represent only five months of the year. “Imagine what we could do if we were open all year long?”

  Nonprofit organizations and faith-based groups house the homeless because Ocean County leaders don’t want to run a shelter.

Fundraiser For Housing

  Just Believe’s first annual 5K and 1K fun run will be held at Winding River Park, 147 Oak Ridge Parkway, Toms River, on May 13 at 8 a.m.

  Proceeds will go to raise funds for a transitional housing project called Larry’s’ Home which will help veterans transition back into society.

  Call Linda for registration and sponsorship information at 732-569-0643.

  For more information, visit JustBelieveInc.org.