Social services agency Fisherman’s Mark has done an assessment to take the measure of need in the communities it serves and determine whether supports vital to people of limited means are within reach.
The nearly 40-year-old agency’s Community Strengths and Needs Assessment, conducted over the summer through client and partner organization interviews examining 22 service areas, will allow Fisherman’s Mark to refine its existing programs as well as plan and prioritize new ones.
The findings are summarized in the report: “Fisherman’s Mark Social Services: Community Strength and Needs Assessment,” authored by Zachary Berliner, the agency’s director of social services.
The report explores the most pressing challenges facing those with low or low-to-moderate incomes; it also illustrates the degree to which Fisherman’s Mark has eased these hardships, particularly for those living in close proximity to the Lambertville-based facility.
Fisherman’s Mark clients are low/moderate income individuals and families living in three counties: Hunterdon and Mercer in New Jersey, and Bucks in Pennsylvania. The assessment examined access to affordable housing, health care, rental assistance, assistance with utilities, having enough food, job training, navigating the social services and parenting support.
Of these areas of need, a number were found difficult to access, in some cases due to systemic barriers. These difficult-to-access services and supports comprise the region’s “extreme service gaps.”
One area of note in the report was the prohibitive cost of housing. A large majority of Lambertville and New Hope households served by Fisherman’s Mark (80 percent) have an income under $15,000; however, the fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Lambertville is $1,330.
To spend the recommended 30 percent of one’s income on housing, a minimum-wage earner would need to work 118 hours a week; that is, the individual would have to hold three full-time jobs.
While survey respondents found housing assistance and other programs difficult to access, only Lambertville and New Hope respondents, having Fisherman’s Mark close at hand, did not find such access lacking.
To make a contribution to help Fisherman’s Mark offer help when help is needed, visit fishermansmark.org.