New Jersey has a serious homelessness issue that needs to be addressed according to one expert who is helping the state devise a strategy.

Panhandlers' Placards Show Signs Of Continued Economic Hardship
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

"The newest point-in-time count in January hasn't been released yet, but last year there were about 12,000 homeless on any one night in New Jersey," said Deb Ellis, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness. "Plus there are a lot of tent cities in New Jersey. People in New Jersey sometimes really have no place to go."

There are things that are working in some counties that the state should explore doing according to Ellis.

"The housing first idea is that you give people homes if they're homeless," Ellis explained. "You don't make them jump through hoops like being sober or not using drugs. First you give them homes and then hopefully they will be able to attain sobriety."

Another good idea is something Ellis calls rapid re-housing. She said the strategy is not only helpful to the homeless, but it would also save the state money.

"You give people rental assistance to re-house them instead of putting them in expensive motels and shelters and transitional housing," Ellis said.

New Jersey is supposed to have a 10-year plan to deal with the issue of homelessness, but no such plan exists yet.

"This state is one of only two states to not have a homeless plan in this country," Ellis said.


More From New Jersey 101.5 FM