December 15, 2021

HomeFront Welcomes Local Families To Its New Rental Housing in Hamilton

HOMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS: HomeFront case managers Elijah Hockett and Victoria Irizarry hang a wreath on the front door of one of HomeFront’s 16 new permanent rental homes for low-income families on Lynwood Avenue in Hamilton. (Photo courtesy of HomeFront)

By Donald Gilpin

Homelessness in Mercer County and throughout the nation is expected to rise sharply when the federal eviction moratorium for low-income families ends on January 1, 2022, but HomeFront is stepping up to help take care of local families in need.

HomeFront has recently selected 16 local families by lottery from 230 who applied to move into newly-built rental homes on Lynwood Avenue in Hamilton. HomeFront now manages 125 affordable, permanent, service-enriched units throughout the county, where local low- and middle-income families pay one-third of their incomes in rent.

The 16 new apartments were built by HomeFront’s sister agency Homes by TLC, in partnership with public and private grants.

In a December holiday appeal, HomeFront CEO Connie Mercer warned of difficult days ahead for Mercer County’s low-income residents, with the cost of living rising and the federal eviction moratorium ending on January 1. “We are bracing for a true crisis. Four thousand renter households in our community are facing eviction,” she wrote. “We have already seen a significant increase in the need for food, essentials, and other critical support. This comes on the heels of already almost two years of expanding our services to meet the unprecedented need caused by the pandemic.”

In providing families with the shelter, food, and assistance they need to break the cycle of poverty, HomeFront during the past year has provided emergency shelter for 138 homeless families at their Family Campus across from the Trenton-Mercer airport, distributed more than 770,000 meals, facilitated more than $800,000 in homelessness prevention funds, and received more than 1,500 visits to its FreeStore in Trenton.

“I am always anxious in December because I grew up in foster care and never had good holiday memories,” said one HomeFront client spending Christmas with her family at HomeFront’s Family Campus. “I’m thrilled we are here, and I hope I can always give my kids this same kind of Christmas.”

HomeFront reported that a local mail carrier and her family were among the 16 families who won a lottery to move into the new Lynwood Avenue rental homes. The postal worker, who asked not to be identified by name, said that she and her husband and two sons “were squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment, making do. We were sleeping on the couch or all in one  bed. It was tight, very tight. Now my sons can have friends over. They have their own beds. It’s a home.”

Adequate housing in a safe neighborhood was out of her family’s reach until now, with her husband unable to work as he awaited a heart transplant, and their income was far below the $31.96 per hour amount required for a New Jersey family to rent a two-bedroom residence.

HomeFront, in operation since 1991, offers a comprehensive service model of 36 different programs, providing shelter, food, other essentials, children’s programming, job and life-skills training, and case management.

“Our comprehensive holistic approach works,” wrote Mercer. “We are relentless in removing barriers to self-sufficiency. We don’t just put a roof over people’s heads; we address that array of problems that cause homelessness.”

She added, “We live in a community that has repeatedly stepped up to help, and which shares our belief that every family deserves a safe place to call home, especially at the holidays, and a path to a brighter future. This gives us hope.”

Visit to find ways to get involved to help a local family who is homeless.