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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

We all have our part

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We all have a role to play. No matter how meticulously laws are crafted, the essence of compassion cannot be legislated.

Hammonton, like many communities in New Jersey, faces challenges with homelessness attempting to effectively legislate solutions. But that alone will not and should not be the cornerstone of resolving the issue.

In late January 2023, a survey by NJ Counts revealed that over 400 people were homeless in Atlantic County, with a statewide total of 10,267. Hammonton has an ordinance prohibiting sleeping or camping on streets, sidewalks or public parks, punishable by fines up to $1,000 or 90 days in prison. Despite this, no citations have been issued since the law’s enactment last September.

And while those facing homelessness should expect a certain level of humanity and assistance, citizens and businesses within the community also have rights and expectations to consider.

The U.S. Supreme Court is soon expected to rule on a case that could permit stricter enforcement of such laws nationwide. A favorable ruling might embolden towns to address homelessness more aggressively.

Local faith leaders are concerned and urge the town to do more, raising the question of the faith community’s role. Churches are called to mend brokenness and address physical, spiritual, emotional and sometimes economic needs, with their mission often starting within their communities.

The challenge is multifaceted. Homelessness presents both humanitarian and legal issues, with each individual’s situation requiring a unique response. Causes range from misfortune and substance abuse to mental health issues and personal choice.

Addressing homelessness requires understanding the diverse issues at play. Solutions must balance the needs and expectations of the homeless with those of the community. The faith-based community, town government and citizens all share responsibility. Only through collaboration can effective and humane solutions be found.

Homelessness solutions are not one-size-fits-all. We must distinguish between those who are homeless due to unavoidable circumstances and those who choose this lifestyle. Different strategies are needed to help each group productively reintegrate into society.

To find lasting solutions, we must stop critiquing and start creating the Hammonton we all desire. Active participation is crucial. The answers won’t come from leaving the issue at city hall’s doorstep.

A council on homelessness is actively seeking solutions. Contact Councilwoman Renee Rodio at to learn how you can contribute to their efforts. Together, we can make a difference.


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