Our mission is to deliver comprehensive solutions to address homelessness in Union County. Our goal is to strengthen families and build communities by providing family support services, homeless prevention and emergency assistance and access to affordable, decent permanent housing.
Founded in 1986 as Interfaith Council for the Homeless of Union County, Homefirst began its first program — the Interfaith Hospitality Network – as a partnership between our agency and area congregations. Its purpose then and still today is to provide homeless families in Union County with shelter, food and other basic necessities. Local congregations opened their doors and provided temporary shelter, mentoring and three nutritious meals. The Network grew from 13 original congregations to 80 congregations.
In 1989 Homefirst began providing rental assistance for families to make possible their transition from our shelter to a home of their own. At the same time we began our shift from a volunteer-based shelter program with part-time social service staff to a direct service organization with full-time professional staff. This further illuminated the many critical needs of parents and children living in poverty that need to be addressed in order to make a long-term difference in their lives. We added additional “service by choice” programs including parenting classes, computer training, resume writing, work preparation, budgeting, health counseling, and enrichment activities for children and parents.
In 1996 we embraced a new national model to address the homelessness crisis – “Housing First.” With funding from Housing and Urban Development and support from our donors, Homefirst bought our first 4 units of affordable housing. The “Housing First” approach helps people move as quickly as possible into affordable housing with the comprehensive case management and support services required to ensure their success.
In May 2006 Interfaith Council for the Homeless of Union County changed its name to Homefirst. Our new name is shorter on words but paints a bigger and more accurate picture of our evolution as an organization. The caring and emergency support that began 35 years ago with the dedicated volunteers who comprise the Interfaith Hospitality Network shelter program, continues today through Homefirst’s Family Support, Homeless Prevention, Supportive Housing and Case Management Programs.
In early 2020, Homefirst transferred its properties to the Community Asset Preservation Corporation (CAPC). CAPC is a non-profit organization and is a division of the New Jersey Community Corporation. CAPC rehabilitates quality, affordable homes throughout New Jersey converting them into for-sale and rental units.
As a result, Homefirst is freed from the cost burden of property management and is now focused exclusively on continuing to be a leading provider of homelessness prevention services in Union County. In Plainfield we have access to 27 properties for transitional, permanent supportive, and permanent supportive housing. We provide a full array of support services to tenants in those units. We currently work very closely with the Housing Authority of Plainfield providing Shelter Plus Care housing vouchers We also work in tandem with many appropriate community-based organizations to safeguard the availability of affordable housing and to supplement our family support services.
Our offices are at our Plainfield Family Support Center located at 905 Watchung Avenue in Plainfield.
Board of Trustees
Rev. Ronald C. Thomas, President & Treasurer
Associate Minister, Fountain Baptist Church
Karen O. Moore, Vice President
Retired Vice President, Global Communications Prudential Financial
Elizabeth Cano, Secretary
Chief Academic Officer and Director, Queen City Academy Charter School
Human Resources Executive
||Development & Program Manager
||Bi-lingual Case Manager