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News about supportive housing, affordable housing, and housing for people with special needs in New Jersey.

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SHA NJ

SHA NJ

The Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey (SHA) is a statewide, nonprofit organization, founded in 1998, whose mission is to promote and maintain a strong supportive housing industry in New Jersey serving people with special needs.

People with disabilities shouldn't have to leave town because they can't afford a home

By Diane Riley

In January, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a, landmark decision affirming that municipalities must meet the need for housing that accrued during a 16-year gap period when New Jersey's fair housing laws weren't being enforced properly.

This unanimous ruling was a giant step forward for tens of thousands of individuals and families who have been waiting years to find homes they could afford.  It means that towns all over New Jersey must now move forward and identify ways to encourage and support the building and rehabilitation of homes for people with limited financial means. And because of this ruling, more homes will surely be built in the years to come to address our state's ongoing housing affordability crisis.

More than 100 municipalities have already reached agreements with advocates and developers establishing obligations of more than 32,000 homes. 

Yet in a trial that is currently underway in Mercer County, five towns with a higher cost of living - Princeton, West Windsor, East Windsor, Hopewell and Lawrence - are arguing to artificially lower their affordable housing numbers.  Their arguments assert that people with extremely low incomes, families who make less than 20 percent of the area median income, should not be counted in the housing methodology at all because they will never be able to afford living in these towns even if the towns properly zone for additional homes.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 8, 2016

NJ SUPREME COURT AGREES TO HEAR IMPORTANT FAIR HOUSING CASE

Court grants appeal from civil rights advocates to defend the legal rights of tens of thousands of working families, seniors, and people with disabilities

Contact: Anthony Campisi  (732) 266-8221

 

The New Jersey Supreme Court Thursday agreed to hear an appeal to ensure that municipalities that had lagged in building homes must meet the needs of tens of thousands of working families, seniors and those with disabilities that accumulated during a 15-year period beginning in 1999.

 

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, Fair Share Housing Center, supported by more than 15 additional civil rights, disability rights and housing advocates, argued that a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division deviated from the course New Jersey had set for decades in determining how the state's housing need should be measured.

 

 

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Posted by on in Legislation

Please read SHA's commentary to NJ Medicaid (Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services - DMAHS) on its renewal application for Medicaid waiver services which allow the state flexibility in delivery of Medicaid.  

 

SHA is pleased that the state has seen fit to include housing related services in its renewal application. 

Our comments are designed to support these services and to urge the state to request additional opportunities of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for use of Medicaid funding in supportive housing.  

To read SHA's comments click here

The deadline for comments to DMAHS is 5 PM today.  Comments can be sent via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

To read NJ's Comprehensive Renewal Application please click here 

To read CMS circular on Coverage of Housing Related Activities and Services click here

 

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Mental Health, Addiction Agencies Facing Problems With New Billing Reforms

Providers say the shift to fee-for-service reimbursement may hurt ability to serve the neediest patients

Medical Costs

Some New Jersey behavioral health providers fear an overhaul to the billing system designed to increase historically low Medicaid reimbursements may hurt their ability to provide treatment for those not covered by the government-subsidized plan and too poor to pay for their own treatment.

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Susan Livio of NJ.com covered SHAs launch of a new housing guide - click here for full article

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Click here for video and transcript is below:

The Supportive Housing Association‘s comprehensive guide was designed to help families navigate the labyrinth of bureaucracies. NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams recently asked SHA Executive Director Gail Levinson how a lack of affordable housing disproportionately affects people with developmental disabilities.

Levinson: People with disabilities often live on very low incomes. It’s a result of mental illness, addiction, an intellectual or developmental disability or a severe physical or mobility impairment. As a result of that it’s hard for an individual with a disability to afford New Jersey’s high cost of living.

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SOUTH ORANGE, N.J., April 6, 2016 –The Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey today announced the availability of a comprehensive housing guide designed to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities plan for community housing with supports. Funded through a grant from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, “The Journey to Community Housing with Supports, A Road Map for Individuals and Their Families” provides understandable information, advice and guidance about community housing and supportive services.

“For people with disabilities, creating a plan for independent living can be a difficult, confusing and frustrating process that requires creative thinking, planning, perseverance and advocacy,” said Gail Levinson, executive director, SHA.  “The path to secure housing is a journey. Our housing guide offers a practical approach to help people understand the system and create a plan for supportive housing that is permanent, affordable and safe.” 

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By Mark Di Ionno for Star-Ledger March 24, 2016

David did not want to be photographed or have his last name used because life wasn't supposed to work out this this way.

When you serve your country in an overseas war and return home to a decent-paying manufacturing job, and live clean and raise a family, you shouldn't end up homeless.

But David did.

To read the full article please click on this link:

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/03/for_homeless_veterans_the_keys_to_a_welcoming_plac.html

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500 State Rental Assistance Progam Vouchers To Be Available For Chronically Homeless

For Immediate Release                                                                Contact:  Brian Murray

Wednesday, March 30, 2016                                                                      609-777-2600 

Trenton, NJ – Continuing the Administration’s strong record of reducing homelessness in New Jersey, Governor Christie today announced the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will issue 500 State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP) vouchers through a new statewide Housing First program.  The vouchers will be available to chronically homeless individuals and/or families who are high utilizers of public systems.

 

“The issue of homelessness has been a critical priority for my Administration and we have been working to coordinate the delivery of services more strategically to help people get back on their feet again,” said Governor Christie. “Housing First is just one example of how we are doing new and innovative things in government to combat chronic homelessness and housing insecurity in our state.”

 

Governor Christie noted:

·         In 2015, homelessness was a staggering 41% lower than it was in 2007;

·         From 2014 to 2015 alone, we reduced the number of homeless in New Jersey by nearly 14%;

·         Rates of homelessness among families with children declined by 25% in the last year.

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Dina’s Dwellings, a new affordable, domestic violence permanent housing facility located at the First Reformed Church, is scheduled to open its doors to its first survivors in mid-March, said the Rev. Susan Kramer-Mills of First Reformed Church, who serves as executive director of the Town Clock Community Development Corp.  Click here for the full story from SHA's award winner at our 17th Annual Conference.

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Posted by on in Breaking News

"Right now the biggest battle is in coming up with a realistic number and the second is coming up with realistic opportunities," said Donna Blaze, executive director of the Affordable Housing Alliance, a nonprofit in Monmouth County.

Adam Resnick walked through the doors of his new apartment off North Main Street in Barnegat and sank into a wide leather chair, quite at ease.

Adam, 40, who has autism and an intellectual disability, is moving out of his parents’ home and into a shared apartment that is clean, brightly-lit and affordable. He'll move into the furnished unit early next year.

“When you have a child like Adam, you’re always thinking: ‘What will happen to him when I’m not around?’” said Ilene Resnick, his mother. “This is the kind of place he’d live in if he was a normal guy.”

Click below to read the entire article published in the Asbury Park Press on December 11, 2015

http://www.app.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/12/11/affordable-housing-new-jersey-courts/75661464/

 

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Posted by on in Sandy recovery

The Star-LedgerMark Di Ionno for The Star-Ledger

Lou DiGeronimo's Sandy recovery plan wasn't new. The Paramus architect is an old pro who believed in a common sense solutions: Come up with a few standard models, buy and construct in bulk, streamline the permit process and get people back home.

Rome wasn't built in a day, but Levittowns – soup-to-nut cities of 50,000 people – were built in three years or less. Why should this disaster recovery take so long?

History was on DiGeronimo's side. In April 1906, half of San Francisco's population of 250,000 was left homeless after a historic earthquake and fire. Within months, the U.S. Army and the city parks department hammered out 5,300 durable wooden shacks, first put in camps, then successfully moved to properties around the city. How durable? One just sold in Telegraph Hill for $765,000.

In this century, Marianne Cusato, a designer and professor of practice at Notre Dame's School of Architecture, did something similar after Hurricane Katrina. She designed 14 models of Katrina Cottages, ranging from 600 to 1,200 square feet. Three hundred permanent structures were built in Louisiana; a few hundred of her mobile units replaced FEMA trailers in Mississippi.

She's been lobbying for a national disaster "playbook" ever since.

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Budget limbo of sequestration puts squeeze on low-income New Jerseyans facing homelessness

Staci Berger Richard W. Brown
Stacie Berger and Richard W. Brown

Lynne worked full time for 30 years, was married, and had her own home. But after a divorce, a job loss, and foreclosure, she was homeless for almost two years. With the help of a housing voucher and support services from Family Promise, she moved into her own apartment. In August, after six months of volunteer experience, she began working full time as an administrative coordinator for a nonprofit in Morris Plains. She drives to work every day in a car that was donated to her.

Lynne says that homelessness “can happen to anyone” and that she “would still be in the street if there were not programs in place.”

“Lawmakers need to know how important vouchers are,” says Lynne.

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9-21-15 NJTVNews

The State Supreme Court ruled to disband COAH, the Coalition on Affordable Housing, and return the power to approve affordable housing plans back to the courts. The deadline for towns to submit proposals for building more affordable housing was two months ago. In the meantime, Bergen County’s United Way has 61 special needs housing units in the works for some 7,000 people with disabilities who are on the waiting list. That number doesn’t include victims of domestic violence or others in need. Tom Toronto, President of the Bergen County United Way says Affordable Housing for people with disabilities is a moral obligation.

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Tom Toronto | September 10, 2015

With new chance to address demand for high-quality, affordable housing, towns have another chance to protect most vulnerable citizens

tom toronto
   Tom Toronto

As towns prepare to submit updated housing plans for judicial approval over the next several months, New Jersey families with special needs are entering an exciting time.

In those plans, municipalities will have the opportunity to address the pressing need for high-quality, affordable housing for some of the most vulnerable New Jerseyans, including those with autism and other developmental disabilities, as well as domestic-violence victims.

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Emily Badger August 13 - Washington Post

We all need sleep, which is a fact of life but also a legally important point. Last week, the Department of Justice argued as much in a statement of interest it filed in a relatively obscure case in Boise, Idaho, that could impact how cities regulate and punish homelessness.

Boise, like many cities — the number of which has swelled since the recession — has an ordinance banning sleeping or camping in public places. But such laws, the DOJ says, effectively criminalize homelessness itself in situations where people simply have nowhere else to sleep. From the DOJ's filing:

When adequate shelter space exists, individuals have a choice about whether or not to sleep in public. However, when adequate shelter space does not exist, there is no meaningful distinction between the status of being homeless and the conduct of sleeping in public. Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity — i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.

 

Click here to read the entire Washington Post article

 

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Susan Sarandon

Just a few weeks after college graduation, Jack Henry Robbins accepted the invitation of a homeless man and rode a city bus with him from Santa Monica to skid row.

It was the first stop on Robbins' nine-city cross-country tour as director of "Storied Streets," a new and startling documentary that his mother, Susan Sarandon, executive produced. There, he and his young crew came face to face with the stereotypes they so earnestly sought to dispel.

"That was by far the one place I felt in danger," said Robbins, 25, talking about skid row this month amid the dark wood and leather of the dean's office at his alma mater, USC, where the film was being screened.

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Posted by on in OpEd

As towns across New Jersey prepare their housing plans over the next few months, we call on them to do all they can to help their fellow residents in need

 

These aren't just numbers - they're our brothers, our sisters, our children and our friends. And they deserve our help

 

By Bob Pekar 

 

In the Burlington County Times

 

Imagine trying to recover from a serious mental illness and not being sure where you were going to be able to sleep at night. Or imagine leaving an abusive relationship but not knowing whether you would have a stable home to fall back on where you could rebuild your life.

 

Situations like these are all too common in New Jersey. Even as new research has shown that good housing is the key to getting families confronting mental illness and other disabilities on their feet, too many New Jersey families wait for years on waiting lists to access safe and affordable housing opportunities. At Oaks Integrated Care, we always have families waiting in line for a housing opportunity.

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NJTV NEWS - 7-24-15 

In the early 1970s, there were people with disabilities who couldn’t go to school or get basic educational services. In some states, they couldn’t vote or hold public office, get a drivers license, sign a contract, get married. Some states even had so-called “ugly laws” that banned from public places people whose physical appearance rendered them unpleasant to look at. That was legal. Twenty-five years ago today that widespread, systemic discrimination against people with disabilities was rendered illegal when President H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was breathtaking in scope but didn’t end discrimination. Executive Director of Disability Rights New Jersey Joe Young told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that the major significance that the ADA has, was that it give people with disabilities a voice.

“Before then, particularly in New Jersey, there were laws, some laws protecting some people with disabilities in certain places but it wasn’t until the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed that it became part of the national conscience,” said Young.

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THOMAS BARLAS, Staff Writer, Press of Atlantic City

Folks go to Bethany Grace Community Church in Bridgeton every Saturday morning to be cleansed.

They’re homeless, and they’re not seeking forgiveness, but rather a hot shower, which the church provides along with some food and clothing.

Pastor Robin Weinstein would love the program to end because, he said, it will mean Cumberland County has managed to find places for all its homeless citizens to live. He is pursuing that lofty goal by pushing for new programs — including a homeless trust fund and better ways of finding living quarters for the homeless — to significantly reduce homelessness within the county’s borders.

“We don’t do a very good job in terms of preventing homelessness and in getting people out of the cycle of homelessness,” he said.

Weinstein’s efforts are beginning to pay off: The Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders could begin discussions later this month on creating a homeless trust fund. Money would come from a $3 fee that could be imposed on deeds, mortgages and other documents filed with the county Clerk’s Office.

County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella said the trust fund could raise an estimated $75,000 a year.

“It’s a good start,” he said.

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