Among the more than 900,000 residents of Bergen County there are a significant number for whom life is excruciatingly hard. Sometimes it is because of physical or mental illness, sometimes because of complex financial matters – often involving prior care of others – that make it impossible to meet mortgage or rental commitments, to pay for essential pharmaceuticals. Foreclosure rates remain astonishingly high here in the county . See map below. The lack of availability of adequate treatment resources is becoming clear as the life-cycle dynamic of drug addiction and many chronic diseases is better understood.
One significant result is people who are homeless (for recent statistics click here) – and both the number and challenge of their proper care remains difficult. Are these people who the State should be supporting? the municipality? Or does the primary responsibility lie with the County? Are there concepts of responsibility and last resort or other public policy precepts that should be guiding answers to these questions? And just where is the proper forum for this discussion?
(Interestingly, 60 Bergen County residents came to the 10/14/2015 Freeholder evening meeting’s public input session to plead for help in addressing a proposed 98% rent increase in a local housing complex. Many reported that they will be homeless if the rental increase is implemented. It is not an issue over which the Freeholders have any jurisdiction. But when the video of that session goes on line (click here), it will be worth watching to see how the Freeholders responded.)