Attention: SHA members and persons/agencies interested in increasing opportunities for people with disabilities in housing.
October 25, 2105
SHA is once again launching the Opening 1,000 Doors Campaign to urge the Christie Administration to add 1,000 new rental vouchers to the state budget for people with disabilities including persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, persons with serious mental illness and the homeless. Persons living in stable housing are less likely to overuse emergency rooms and other high cost centers and can become a productive part of their local communities.
The NJ Department of Human Services is accepting budget recommendations for the 2016/2017 budget year and we are urging everyone to write or email Commissioner Beth Connolly urging her to add 1,000 new rental vouchers to the state budget so that people of very low income with disabilities can afford rental apartments in local communities. Rental vouchers will pay up to 2/3 of an affordable rent for eligible individuals.
If you are planning to submit organizational budget testimony, please add this campaign to your request. For individuals, please consider sending a written plea reminding the state that rental vouchers are critical for those wishing to achieve housing independence.
From October 19 to November 20, the Department will collect interested stakeholder's email or hard copy (handwritten or typed) testimony with constructive ideas and suggestions concerning DHS' portion of the FY'17 budget.
Testimony can be emailed to:
Click here for a sample that you may wish to use or adapt to you own situation and send using the email or post office address noted above.
Opening 1,000 Doors Campaign
A Work in Progress.....
From Gail Levinson, SHA Executive Director
I want to personally thank all of you who made great efforts over the past 6 months to encourage the NJ legislature to include new rental vouchers in the 2016 state budget for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who have serious mental illness or who are chronically homeless. Your individual efforts of signing our online petition, making calls, visits and writing letters to the editor have launched this drive giving us a strong advocacy base going forward.
Fortunately the legislature kept intact the 200 vouchers that Governor Christie included in his proposed budget for people with I/DD thanks to vigorous advocacy by the Arc of NJ and many families. Additionally and thankfully, Commissioner Chuck Richman of the Department of Community Affairs recently issued proposals for project based vouchers to providers for 100 homeless veterans and for 300 low-income households including disabled households.
We were not however able to convince legislators, via our campaign, to add more new tenant based vouchers to the budget for this next fiscal year. However the Opening 1,000 Doors campaign was begun because of an affordable housing crisis in which many of those we care about who live on very low incomes with disabilities, are unable to find a safe, decent place to live because rents are too high. This affordable housing crisis continues - and grows.
Consequently, with your assistance, our plea for more rental assistance will now continue - and grow.
So far we have over 2,000 people who have signed on to the campaign. We will now bring our voices directly to Governor Christie and Lieutenant Governor Guadagno and their staff in the hope that they will see fit to include more rental vouchers in the 2017 proposed budget, which will be under consideration, by the Administration, in the months ahead. Afterwards we will, once again, reach out to legislators as well.
In the interim please sign the Opening 1,000 Doors campaign if you have not already done so and share the link with your colleagues, friends and families so that our numbers can continue to increase in size and our voices can be heard more loudly in Trenton.
Please sign our petition today - We are over the 1,000 signatures we need! On our way to 2,000! Please help us get there!
Click here to sign
Opening 1,000 Doors
2016 NJ Budget Campaign for State Rental Vouchers
• Why are we making this request for 1,000 new rental vouchers? There are too many people living on very low incomes with disabilities in NJ who do not have safe, decent places to live in communities throughout the state.
• Over 145,000 people with serious disabilities in NJ receive Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which means they live on less than $800 monthly.
• A vital missing link that will help solve the housing crisis for this population is the availability of rental vouchers, which supplement a person’s income to pay for an affordable rental.
• NJ provides housing to people with developmental disabilities and serious mental illness of very low income through licensed facilities or rental vouchers and other subsidies; the numbers are in the range of 15,000 people. Federal and other state vouchers (SRAPs) provide for additional numbers of people with disabilities but clearly more needs to be done.
• By adding 1,000 new state rental vouchers to the 2016 budget NJ will ultimately be saving money by reducing the overuse of emergency rooms, prisons, shelters and long term care facilities, that are often used because of the lack of permanent supportive housing.
• What is supportive housing? Supportive housing is permanent, affordable, lease-based housing for people of low income with access to flexible supportive services. Supportive housing is designed for people with special needs including those with mental, physical and developmental disabilities as well as people who are homeless.
• Families, consumers, human services providers and other concerned citizens are proposing that Governor Christie and the state legislature ease this problem by adding $10 Million or 1,000 new rental vouchers to the 2016 state budget ($10,000 per person per year) which will enable 1,000 low income people with disabilities the opportunity to secure an affordable rental and live with independence in the community. We are signing an online petition and making visits to legislative leaders with our personal and professional stories to request this addition to the 2016 budget.
• We request that this money be earmarked as an annual allocation in the general fund to be repeated each year. We further request that this allocation be added to the budget in addition to housing vouchers/subsidies committed as part of NJ's Olmstead settlement obligation for those leaving institutions and in emergency situations.
Opening 1000 Doors
A campaign to increase rental vouchers for people of very low income who live with disabilities in New Jersey
There are over 145,000 people living with serious disabilities in NJ who collect Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income or SSI benefits which means they live on less than $800 per month while struggling with developmental disabilities, mental illness and/or physical and sensory impairments. Many of these individuals cannot afford to live independently and are relegated to living at home with aging parents, living in substandard housing or are homeless.
New Jersey’s Department of Human Services provides housing in licensed community beds or through rental vouchers to approximately 15,000 people.
Providers, families and individuals with disabilities are working together to urge Governor Christie and the legislature to increase the number of state rental assistance vouchers to house 1,000 people at a cost of $10 million or $10,000 per person per year. By doing this our state leaders will begin to further address the housing needs of the poor and disabled while saving dollars currently misdirected to prisons, homeless shelters and emergency rooms when people do not have save, decent housing.
We are requesting that this allocation of new rental assistance be divided between the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, people with serious mental illness and the chronically homeless.
We are requesting that this money be earmarked as an annual allocation in the general fund to be repeated each year in order that an additional 1,000 people be given the opportunity to live independently and as self-sufficiently as they are able.
Write your own story and mail to your legislator
Sign our petition – click here to sign
Visit your legislator – http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp
Volunteer to write an article, introduce us to a VIP
Forward a PDF about the campaign | Click here to download
Darin was lost, adrift and alone. For the majority of his adult life he struggled with mental illness, specifically bi-polar disorder and PTSD. After a difficult break-up withhis girlfriend in 2011, he relocated to Atlantic City, hopeful for a fresh start. That fresh start was not easy to find.
Darin had difficulty finding employment and housing due to his legal history. Circumstances led him to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission where he enrolled in the Overcomers Program, which helps with job readiness, obtaining proper identification and other life skills. Darin continued to struggle and remained homeless for more than two years before he was referred to JFS in July 2014.
JFS staff immediately went to work to help improve many aspects of his life. Working with area landlords, JFS Case Managers secured him a one bedroom apartment in Atlantic City, complete with an outside deck that overlooks the ocean. Now in his 50s, Darin is in awe to be living in his own place that he doesn’t have to share with anyone, something he thought may never be possible.
“With Darin, it is clearly evident just how much having his own apartment means to him,” said Alli Corley, Supervisor of PATH and Supportive Housing at JFS. “He is a great example of a person who can overcome homelessness and be a success.”
With the support of JFS, Darin is actively looking for employment and has participated in a series of job interviews for labor positions with moving and retail companies. He is hopeful to find a job this year. He continues to receive ongoing case management and has connected with a specialized therapist to cope with the stresses of daily living. Thanks to JFS, Darin has started to reconnect with his children. He recently became a grandfather and looks forward to becoming even more involved in his children’s lives.
Darin realizes just how different his life would be if not for JFS. In the spirit of giving back, he is a frequent volunteer at the Mission. He encourages people in similar situations by sharing his own story and how JFS enabled him to find the fresh start he needed.