NEWARK, N.J. -- The City of Newark is seeing a dramatic drop in people experiencing homelessness, according to state data.
An outreach team with the City of Newark canvassed Penn Station along with New Jersey Transit Police, looking to help people who are homeless.
"We try to convince them, meet them where they're at, and try to make sure we can get them into shelter," said Izaiah Hayes-Willoughby, with the mayor's Office of Homeless Services.
"I've seen individuals who've been here as long as I have now living in homes," New Jersey Transit Inspector Nicholas Capriglione said.
This team's effort, along with new housing and preventive services, are the main reasons, Newark's mayor says, state-released data shows there's been a staggering drop of 57.6% in the city's unsheltered homeless population.
"Serious collaboration is going on between state, county and city folks," Mayor Ras J. Baraka said.
Luis Ulerio, the director of the mayor's Office of Homeless Services, showed CBS New York Hope Village II, a container community now under construction for people without an address.
"We wanted to give individuals their own space," Ulerio said.
He says it started with the mayor's vision to end homelessness three years ago.
"Sure, we're using the containers as a material, but when you put it together, it's creating a home," Ulerio said.
"We have our own room, we have our own key, like, nobody else in there with us. We have our own space," Hope Village resident Kristin Andrejcak said.
The 50-year-old lives in the first Hope Village community, and she says it gives her hope.
"Really good because I was living in a tent across from Penn Station for about year and a half," she said.
"We find that the top two causes of homelessness in New Jersey right now are first, being asked to leave a shared residence, and number two, eviction," Bridges Outreach Executive Director Richard Uniack said.
In separate quarters in Hope Village, there are homes for homeless men and women struggling with chronic conditions.
"We need to look at these people not as a problem to fix but a person to help," Hayes-Willoughby said.
There are five rooms in each unit, and 20 total units in Hope Village II. They're hoping to open by the end of the year.
The city says money to combat homelessness comes from both federal money and grants as well as private donations.
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