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Information about Homelessness

ALICE Project NJ

ALICE is an acronym which stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Working and represents a growing number of families and individuals around the nation who are working but still cannot afford the basic necessities of housing, food, childcare, health care and transportation.  United Way created a study, as their mission states,  “to make the invisible visible by shining a light on the true number of families struggling in the U.S. We aim to change the national dialogue about the impact on families, communities, and all of us when financial crisis is the norm for so many.” Learn more.

Out of Reach

The lack of affordable housing is a major issue effecting almost every family experiencing homelessness.  Just to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Bergen County a family needs to be making over $28 per hour. Out of Reach documents the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of housing. To see New Jersey’s report click here.


Additional Information


Ministry of Presence

Many volunteers ask what they should be ‘doing’ when they volunteer with the families.  We’d like you to understand that your mere presence is valuable and extremely helpful to the families.  Click here to learn more.

Words on Gratitude

Sometimes volunteers are upset when families don’t appear grateful for their efforts.  For more information on this topic click here.


Lending Library

Family Promise owns a limited number of copies of the following books and is happy to lend them to anyone interested in learning more about homelessness and poverty. Families experiencing homelessness come from a variety of geographic, racial, and religious backgrounds. What they have in common is an understanding of the struggles that come with finding housing, dealing with finances, managing work and family life, and simply surviving. Check out these must-read books that provide a glimpse into the experiences of so many Americans.

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
In this non-fiction piece, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor discusses the practice of redlining in America and unpacks the racism embedded in the United States housing system. Her book offers an analysis of how discrimination within the housing market has contributed to generations of Black families unable to secure housing. Understanding America’s history of housing discrimination is vital to understanding why a disproportionate number of families of color experience homelessness.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, Stephanie Land
In this autobiography, Stephanie Land shares her experience of working as a maid after an unexpected pregnancy leaves her struggling along the poverty line. The story dives into the realities of service workers and reveals the complexities of simply surviving. The story explores the challenges of maintaining a family while simultaneously battling mental illness, substance abuse, and poverty. This book was eventually turned into a Netflix series.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein
Richard Rothstein discusses the history of discrimination within the United States housing system. Rothstein exposes how the United States has promoted racial discrimination and dissects the impacts of passing the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This non-fiction book explores and begins to unpack the generational harm of housing discrimination that endures decades later.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond
In this Pulitzer Prize winning book, Matthew Desmond collects stories from eight families who are in the midst of experiencing housing insecurity. The book expands on the lived impacts of poverty and illustrates what survival looks like for those experiencing eviction. These stories highlight the importance of having a place to call home.

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, Nicholas Kristoff & Sheryl WuDunn
Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn highlight the devastation experienced by working class Americans. The authors share their firsthand experiences and those of their childhood friends to show how poverty and addiction can impact the people around us. They also use the knowledge they have gained to outline workable solutions to America’s poverty crisis in both a rural and urban context.

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, Linda Tirado

The Working Poor: Invisible in America, David K. Shipler

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

Toxic Charity, Robert D. Lupton

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Homeless Children and Families in Small-Town America, Yvonne M. Vissing

The New Poverty: Homeless Families in America, Ralph de Costa Nunez

Hopes, Dreams & Promise: The Future of Homeless Children in America, Ralph de Costa Nunez

The American Family Inn Handbook: A How-To Guide, Ralph de Costa Nunez

A Shelter is Not a Home-Or Is It? Lessons from Family Homelessness in New York City, Ralph de Costa Nunez

Beyond the Shelter Wall: Homeless Families Speak Out, Ralph de Costa Nunez

Moving Out, Moving Up: Families Beyond Shelter,  Ralph de Costa Nunez