Four months into his first term as Hudson County Executive, Craig Guy outlined his administration’s accomplishments during the State of the County Address on Tuesday before the Board of Commissioners.

Guy touched on a number of important topics, including community engagement, affordable housing and food insecurity, as well as careers and job opportunity, the arts, and Vision Zero initiatives.  The County Executive also announced a listening tour in each municipality to hear the concerns and needs directly from members within the community, with the first session taking place on May 23rd in Jersey City.

Following his speech, County Executive Guy told reporters, “Today I laid out the work that’s been done in my first 4 months in office and our plans for the future of Hudson County. As I sought this office last year, residents and business owners alike expressed a desire for county government to do more – provide more services and become more of a partner in building new bridges of opportunity.  For some, that meant helping them or a loved one more effectively connect with county services that were already available. For others, it meant focusing on issues which we hadn’t concentrated on before. And that is exactly what we have begun to do. And it is what we will do – every day – that we have the privilege to serve this county.”

The entire transcript of the County Executive’s speech may be read below:

Good Afternoon,

I want to begin by thanking all of you for all you do to help us govern: the board of county commissioners, the mayors of our 12 towns, our prosecutor and constitutional officers, our legislative representatives, all our county employees, our labor unions, and our residents – thank you for working with our administration these past few months to help us stake out our exciting new direction.

All of you are critical to the success of the next three-and-a-half years of this term, entrusted to us by the people of Hudson County.

For more than two decades, I was proud to be part of the previous administration that worked hard to deliver many successes for all communities in Hudson County. None of that success would have been possible without so many of you right here in this room (and online).

My friends—please join me in taking a moment to applaud all that remarkable work carried out by you—and so many of our colleagues. Every one of you deserve it!

Now today, I stand before you to lay out the work that’s been done in my first 4 months in office and our plans for the future of Hudson County. As I sought this office last year, residents and business owners alike expressed a desire for county government to do more – provide more services and become more of a partner in building new bridges of opportunity.

For some, that meant helping them or a loved one more effectively connect with county services that were already available.

For others, it meant guiding a resident through a new county program or service.

My friends, that is exactly what we have begun to do. And it is what we will do – every day – that we have the privilege to serve this county!

So Service and Opportunity – that is what the Craig Guy Administration is all about. But we want to hear more from our residents — we want to hear about the concerns and needs directly from members within our community.

That’s why today I’m announcing a listening tour in each municipality to give every resident a voice in Hudson County.

Over the next several months, I will be traveling throughout the county to host conversations with residents, business owners, religious leaders, and others to gain insight into county concerns. I’m proud to announce the first of these events will take place on May 23rd in Jersey City.

I hope all of you will help me in promoting these sessions so we can be informed in determining which issues to prioritize and how we can best serve the residents and families in Hudson County.

We started our administration by launching an effort to expand awareness of county services directly within the communities we represent.

Our administration has launched a series of “Community Resource Fairs” to highlight and bring our county services directly into the communities to those in need.

With these efforts, more residents are afforded the opportunity to put their lives back on track and overcome the threat of hunger or homelessness. I want to thank all of our mayors and municipal officials who have cooperated – and are cooperating — with us to make these Resource Fairs such a success.

We know housing insecurity is a huge issue for Hudson County, which is why I am following through on my campaign platform to increase affordable housing opportunities.

Within 30 days of taking office, we were able to complete a groundbreaking transitional housing partnership agreement with the city of Jersey City.

Under this agreement, county clients now in transitional housing will receive priority placement into permanent housing through the Jersey City Housing Authority.

This new partnership helps individuals move into permanent, affordable housing that is not time-limited.

It is humane, it is good for those in need, AND it saves taxpayers money.

But we must do more to expand the number of existing affordable units within Hudson County.

I’ve asked our Department of Family Services and Reintegration to focus heavily on this topic.

We have already created a universal online or in-person application for anyone seeking housing assistance, as well as a central point of contact at County Plaza to help people identify, qualify, and enter permanent housing.

On that note, we have fully reopened our county welfare offices at county plaza, so that those who need housing and welfare assistance are able to access these services in the same space. In one four-day period these offices served over 700 clients needing housing and welfare assistance.

But back to affordability – we are looking to build new affordable housing units on County government property, and I’ve asked our some of our key leadership to begin our efforts. To those leading, I know you’ll achieve all of my goals (no pressure).

Improving our process will improve opportunities for those in need of affordable housing—but actually building new affordable housing will do far more. I am very excited to see this happen!

We learned a great deal about the people of our county during the COVID-19 pandemic: no county was more resilient and community spirited.

But we also learned a very troubling fact: food insecurity is unfortunately alive and well in Hudson County and throughout the state.

And according to data collected by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, approximately 1 in 12 families in Hudson County still remain food insecure.

That is unacceptable, and I have taken three major actions to investigate and address this issue.

First, I have directed our Department of Health & Human Services to organize the County’s first-ever Food Insecurity Summit, which will take place on May 22nd. This event will bring together a range of public health experts and community stakeholders to examine the potential root causes of food insecurity and recommendations to counter this.

We will explore partnerships with a range of entities, including third party non-profits and qualified health centers, to develop new food pantries and food pharmacies in locations across Hudson County.

We have also begun discussions with non-profit partners to work on ways to further supplement SNAP benefits, as we know SNAP benefits do not always cover food purchases for a growing family.

No Hudson County family should suffer food insecurity if we have the resources and the resolve to prevent it.

Ultimately, however, the old saying remains true: the best social program is a good career.

In our first 4 months we have sought to increase and expand career opportunities for our residents in a number of ways:

With the help of Congressman Rob Menendez and Senator Cory Booker, we’ve secured a 5-million-dollar federal grant to rebuild Route 508 from West Hudson to the Wittpen Bridge, generating more union construction jobs.

With funding support from the EPA, the County has entered into a partnership with Hudson County Community College to provide training to County residents for green infrastructure career certification and placement assistance in this field.

We’ve reached out to our business community and labor leaders to expand our County Summer Youth Employment/Trade Internship program so students who want to start their careers in Hudson County are empowered to stay.

This semester our Schools of Technology partnered with the Port Authority to join a pre-apprenticeship program featuring instruction in construction trade skills, putting students in line for union careers.

Last month our Schools of Technology students launched the school’s new “Outdoor Classroom Food Bus,” a student-operated food truck that sells food created by the students in the Culinary Arts Program. The Food Bus will be visiting community events throughout the County, and all profits from its sales will go into a student scholarship fund.

And as someone who has tasted what they’re selling from the Outdoor Classroom Food Bus, I can promise you, we’re making a good investment!

On the collegiate level, NJCU and Hudson County Community College recently created the Connect Program, allowing students to have targeted, personalized support to complete their bachelor’s degrees on time, seamlessly moving from HCCC to NJCU to graduate with a meaningful degree, save money and begin their career.

Programs like these, along with educational capital projects, are simply the latest examples of how we continue to invest both in our youth and our economy, every day.

To continue expansion of opportunities for unemployed and underemployed adults, we have been working with the Hudson County/Jersey City Workforce Development Board Chair Roger Jones, the NJDOL and the USDOL to improve outreach and opportunities consistent with federal guidelines and requirements. Thank you to the Workforce Development Board members and partners.

And let’s not forget our small business community. On February 1st, we launched a disparity study to look at how Hudson County government and our subsidiary agencies do business with diverse businesses such as small, minority, women-owned, and disadvantaged businesses seeking contracts. The research study is almost complete, and information as well as recommendations will be forthcoming to help mold our policies and procedures going forward.

Better Service and better opportunity lead to better quality of life. But quality of life in Hudson County is also affected by our artistic and cultural diversity. The Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and Tourism Development highlights the artistic and cultural diversity of our county while generating arts-based economic activity. But what it does with the arts is so much more than dollars and cents.

Our County Arts in Education Grant Program allows arts educators from local organizations to partner with County schools to teach arts education, when it otherwise would not be offered. This year 16 nonprofit arts organizations and 35 schools within Hudson County are benefiting from this grant.

And in cooperation with the state, Hudson County this year alone funded 49 organizations for programs in theater, music, visual arts, literature, dance and film.

In addition to celebrating our arts and diversity, making Hudson County greener has been a priority for our administration from day one.

We will keep adding to our County’s green space – whether in Harrison, or in Union City, or right here in Jersey City when we demolish the old Courthouse building on Newark Avenue and replace it with a beautiful, central green space the neighborhood desperately needs.

And you may have heard about our Vision Zero task force – through this group we are working to improve our streets, paths, and trails for recreation, commuting, and fitness. The Task Force connects monthly and will be engaging with the public. We look forward to having a comprehensive plan drafted by the end of this calendar year.

That plan with Hudson County residents through community pop-ups at high foot traffic areas and through online surveys. This will also help us better understand the areas you and your family use the most.

Early this summer we’ll test out a new street design on one of Hudson County’s busy streets with opportunity for in-person and digital feedback. All of this data will make our draft action plan even more robust.

Hudson County is working every day to make our roads safer for bikers, pedestrians, and motorists. This will require comprehensive plans, numerous strategies and policies, and partnerships between the government and our community.

In conclusion, this is what our new direction is all about – An improved Quality of life complete with service and opportunity.

That has been the focus of our first few months.

It will be our focus for every day going forward.

Thank you.

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