Three Mercer County non-profits — Arm In Arm, Housing Initiatives of Princeton and Princeton Area Community Foundation — are working together to prevent evictions and stop homelessness, as Covid-19 causes severe financial distress and housing insecurity.

At the onset of the pandemic, Arm In Arm and Housing Initiatives of Princeton, with nearly 55 years of combined experience serving low-income residents, began partnering to meet the housing needs of the county’s residents most in danger of becoming homeless.

In July, the Arm In Arm and HIP coalition received a $100,000 grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund to ease the financial repercussions felt by households in the community.

Arm In Arm executive director David Fox says HIP’s partnership and the Community Foundation’s funding will “provide extraordinary rental assistance to help 50-75 families find a clear path to housing sustainability.”

“People who are struggling to pay their rent during this crisis will discover that it is much easier to get the help they need,” said HIP chair Carol Golden.

“We are supporting the partnership formed between Arm In Arm and Housing Initiatives of Princeton, as they have been working tirelessly to help our neighbors who have been devastated by the economic fallout from this pandemic,” said Jeffrey M. Vega, President & CEO of the Community Foundation, “By working together and sharing their expertise, we believe they will have a great impact in our region.”

So far, Arm In Arm, HIP and the Community Foundation, using less than 30 percent of the funding, say they have been able to provide assistance to 18 families at an average assistance level of $1,611. This aid is more than three times what Arm In Arm or HIP could have offered if working individually rather than in partnership.

Arm in Arm, formerly the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, helps secure the basic needs of food and housing and promotes long-term stability through work training and support. Today, over 5,000 families are helped each year by Arm in Arm.

Housing Initiatives of Princeton’s mission is to provide transitional housing coupled with supportive services. The organization provides temporary rental assistance, including arrears, first month’s rent or security deposit, to enable low-income families to retain existing housing or acquire affordable housing. HIP also works to raises awareness of insufficient housing options and challenges facing the working poor.