The task force would assist municipalities in addressing homelessness problems.
Freeholder Brian Stack will serve as the task force chairman, with Freeholders Maurice Fitzgibbons, Albert Cifelli and Nidia Colon as members.
In addition, Vega has asked County Executive Tom DeGise and the mayors of the 12 towns in Hudson County to designate members to serve on task force.
Vega also said three professionals on homelessness would be named to the task force as well, people who deal with homelessness on a daily basis.
"Even though the county currently does much to help deal with the homelessness problem," Vega said, "the task force will be entrusted with the mission of determining if we can offer additional resources or better allocate our current resources. In addition, improving interagency and county-municipality cooperation should be a priority of the new group."
Early in December, several freeholders suggested the county take a role in dealing with the homelessness problem, claiming it had become an issue too large for a single municipality to handle. Hoboken Mayor David Roberts recently established a similar panel to deal with growing population in that town. But Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, who represents Hoboken and part of Jersey City, said Jersey City's problem is worse, and Union City faces an even more serious problem.
Some of the increase in homeless residents, Fitzgibbons said, has to do with Sept. 11 displacing people into Hudson County.
Stack acknowledged that Union City has a significant problem with only one shelter there to handle increasing numbers. Earlier this year, he said police departments - lacking resources to handle homeless in other towns - have actually driven homeless to the borders of Union City.
According to Vega, the task force will meet once a month, and after the third meeting should report their findings back to the freeholders, along with any specific suggestions.
Vega said that the members of the new task force are "cognizant to the growing homeless problem and will make a significant contribution towards dealing with the problem."
"Part of the impetus for the creation of this task force has been the concerns expressed by the mayors from throughout the county, especially in the rate of growth of the problem," Vega said. "It is evident that county government is going to be required to intensify its efforts to help the mayors cope with the problem. We won't be a cure-all, but any additional assistance we can give certainly is a step in the right direction."
Will seek information
During a telephone interview, Vega said, "We are going to get a report from the professionals to see what the situation is. We have concerns about the situation and we feel the situation is getting worse. I'm not comfortable with numbers shown me in the past, and we would like to see more accurate and updated information."
Two weeks ago, a homeless man was found dead on the streets of Hoboken, although officials said that alcoholism contributed to the death. The three homeless shelters in Hudson County - in Jersey City, Hoboken and Union City - are often full in the winter.
The county task force would allow the freeholders to possibly reallocate funding within the county budget to help address the needs, as well as to project the county's needs for the future for helping the homeless.
Vega said, "We can see there is a problem, but we want to know we are doing everything we can and if there is a way we can do more - if not in giving more dollars, than in making sure that we can find other ways to help."
Vega said that, however, the freeholders are unlikely to set up a county homeless shelter.
"I think a centralized approach is wrong," Vega said. "We do not want to have to relocate people from one part of the county to another. What we need to do to cope with the situation is find people affordable housing or shelter in the community in which they already live."