PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Having a mailbox is something most people don’t think twice about, but many homeless individuals don’t have a place to get important documents or letters.
The city of Passaic is changing that.
CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis spoke to a man who didn’t want to share his name but shared the hardships faced since losing his job as a handyman nine months ago.
“When you lose your job, you don’t got no money to pay the rent,” he said.
It’s a problem experienced by many in the pandemic. The man says no home and no mailing address means “for a job, especially if you apply for something, you never know they respond, you never know if they accept you.”
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“It came up in a conversation with me that some don’t have access to mail, things that we take for granted every single day. They don’t know how to connect to get their benefits, whether social security, or even if they applied for a job, what address are they gonna put down for correspondence?” Passaic Mayor Hector Lora said.
Now, they can put down 276 Broadway — the address for Passaic Dignity House, which now has mailboxes designated to homeless individuals.
“This is not just for someone to come in and say ‘Give me a mailbox’ and we won’t see you for six or seven months. These are people we want to follow because the ultimate goal is to get them off the street,” Lora said.
That can start with a simple letter, which the post office delivers through a slot. Human Services takes care of the rest.
The mail either gets placed in one of 21 mailboxes or it’s held for when the person comes to pick it up and takes advantage of the other services Passaic Dignity House offers.
“We have showers on the first floor and second floor,” Lora said.
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The homeless resource center is a place to pick up food, do laundry and, now, grab mail.
“If we can connect them to small services … those things together may begin the process or may be a catalyst to ignite that fire inside,” Lora said.
Like it did for the man DeAngelis spoke to, who says having a place for him and his mail to go gives him hope.
“I feel one day I will be on my shoes again, I will be back on my feet again,” he said.
This is the first step.
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