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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.

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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In order to assist homeless service providers to understand the new regulations that the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (the Alliance) has created a condensed outline of HUD's notice of the proposed regulations.

This resource is meant to serve as a guide, not as a substitute for the notice. HUD is seeking feedback to consider in the development of the ESG final rule from providers that have gained insight and experience implementing the program's first interim rule, released in 2011. 

The Alliance will be submitting comments on the proposed regulations and encourages readers to provide feedback on the ESG program generally and the HUD notice specifically. 
 

Click here to read more

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Daily Record, June 17, 2015

For low-income people with disabilities, New Jersey is not a welcoming place to live. Social services organizations are inundated with calls from people desperate for a place to call home.

There are about 120,000 adults with disabilities in N.J. who receive Social Security Supplemental Security Income benefits and live on less than $800 monthly. Approximately 41,000 receive federal and state housing assistance in subsidized units or through rental vouchers. This leaves 80,000 people with the difficult task of finding a place to live in one of the costliest states in the nation.

New Jersey has to start thinking differently about how to house its most vulnerable citizens. With a safe, affordable place to live that is close to family and friends, access to transportation, socialization and jobs, these individuals can contribute to society in positive ways.

Here are several ideas that can make a difference:

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Rebecca Panico | The Jersey Journal The Jersey Journal  

JERSEY CITY -- Fernando Lopez smiles after ending nearly every sentence, his green eyes shining bright. You would never suspect he had chemotherapy just three days earlier. 

"This ain't going to be the end of me," Lopez said, referring to his Hodgkin's lymphoma, while stretching and showing off his pearly white teeth during an interview last month.

Maybe Lopez didn't want to show any weakness in front of his three young children or his fiancé, Valentina Bellandi, but through war, cancer and homelessness, the Army veteran has seen his fair share of strife.

However, with the help of Community Hope -- a New Jersey non-profit organization that helps individuals, including veterans and their families, overcome mental illness, poverty and homelessness -- Lopez has renewed optimism. 

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SHA Hosts Campaign"Opening 1,000 Doors"

1,000+ have signed a petition to increase rental vouchers for people with disabilities in NJ

 

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. May 19, 2015 -- The Supportive Housing Association of NJ is hosting a campaign for the 2016 state budget - Opening 1,000 Doors - calling for an additional 1,000 rental vouchers in the state budget so that people of very low income living with intellectual or developmental disabilities, people with mental illness and the homeless have a place to call home. Over 1,000 people have signed the organization's online petition that been sent to legislative leaders, members of the budget committees, Governor Christie and members of his cabinet. Rental vouchers subsidize the rents paid by very low-income individuals.

 

 

SHA urges others to support their efforts by signing the petition to open 1,000 doors for people with disabilities in the 2016 budget at http://chn.ge/1aDFxtU.

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by Laura Dudnick  for The San Francisco Examiner

The housing crisis in San Francisco has, if nothing else, prompted developers to think outside the box.

For the first time in The City’s history, a development firm has teamed up with a nonprofit organization to offer supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals and families, on the same site where market-rate housing will be constructed. It’s a move supporters hope will inspire future projects to follow suit.

But some feel the proposal at the decrepit and run-down Civic Center Hotel, owned by the Local 38 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, will not provide enough below market-rate homes in the thriving mid-Market area.

San Francisco-based Strada Investment Group has teamed up with Community Housing Partnership, The City’s only nonprofit that exclusively provides supportive housing to formerly homeless individuals and families. The firm and nonprofit will transform the hotel into a nearly 600-unit mixed-use development of multiple buildings, along with vehicle and bicycle parking and open space.

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The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) has released the results of the 2015 Out of Reach Report today at the Kilmer Homes in Edison. Click here to read more about today's event.

Here are several highlights from this year's study on rental home affordability from the National Low Income Housing Coalition: 

  1. New Jersey remains the fifth most expensive state for renters.
  2. The hourly housing wage in NJ for a two-bedroom rental at fair market rent is $25.17.
  3. The mean wage for a NJ renter is $16.92 an hour, well below the housing wage.
  4. At $16.92/hour, an individual would have to work 59 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
  5. Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Somerset counties are the most expensive for rentals while Cumberland is the most affordable of all the NJ counties
New Jersey data from Out of Reach 2015 is available here. For the complete report with national data, please visit nlihc.org .     

HELP SPREAD THE WORD!
The Out of Reach report contains valuable information that supports the need for affordable homes in New Jersey. Use the data provided to make a case when speaking to legislators, funders, board members, reporters, clients, and supporters. Please use this media tool kit to help you get the word out and let everyone know why New Jersey needs more homes people can afford.

If you have any questions on Out of Reach, please contact Arnold Cohen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

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Posted by on in OpEd

By JASON FURMAN  MAY 11, 2015 (Op-Ed Contributor New York Times)

Washington - Do government efforts to support low-income families work? Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, skeptics have argued that even if these programs provide temporary relief, the only long-term impact is increased dependency - witness, they say, the persistent lack of mobility in places like inner-city Baltimore.

But a growing body of research tells a very different story. Investments in education, income, housing, health care and nutrition for working families have substantial long-term benefits for children.

Consider Moving to Opportunity, an experiment in the 1990s that gave families housing assistance, in some cases contingent on their moving to less poor neighborhoods. Initial evidence from the randomized trial was disappointing, finding little or no improvements in test scores for children or earnings for adults. A new paper by the Harvard economists Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren and Lawrence F. Katz, however, followed the children for another decade. It found that traditional rental vouchers had increased their earnings as adults by 15 percent, and experimental vouchers, which required people to move to less poor neighborhoods, by 31 percent. The additional tax revenue from these higher earnings was enough to repay the program’s cost.

This is only the latest in a number of recent studies that use big data to understand the longer-term effects of a range of government programs.

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Forms Working Group to Continue Efforts Proposed by Interagency Council on Homelessness

                   For Immediate Release - April 24, 2015

                    Contact: Kevin Roberts       Brian Murray  609-777-2600

Trenton, NJ– Acting on recommendations from The Interagency Council on Homelessness, Governor Chris Christie today announced the formation of a Working Group to further explore ways in which to reduce and prevent homelessness in New Jersey. Specifically, the Working Group will consider implementation of the proposals put forth by the Interagency Council, including Housing First policies, Rapid Re-Housing, and improved coordination among state agencies and social service providers that deliver key services to homeless individuals and families and those at risk of homelessness.

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By 

Joshua Burd, April 23, 2015 for NJBiz

Affordable housing advocates have identified the need for more than 200,000 low- and moderate-income units in New Jersey through 2025, in a report that could serve as a baseline for the state judiciary as it begins to sort out the obligations for individual municipalities.

The calculations, which were prepared by the Fair Share Housing Center, could still be disputed by local officials who say the development would overburden their municipalities. But the report marks the first time Fair Share has updated the need estimates since a March 10 ruling by the state Supreme Court, which stripped the controversial Council on Affordable Housing of its duties and turned them over to the lower courts.

“The Supreme Court directed the trial courts to determine what the obligations are, and this is our initial entry in the process,” said Kevin Walsh, associate director of the Fair Share Housing Center. “What we’ve done is engaged in the litigation contemplated by the courts.”

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April 22, 2015 by Phil Hall for NMP (National Mortgage Professional Magazine)

It would appear that proper nutrition, exercise and getting the right amount of sleep are not the only basic requirements for a healthy life. A new research brief from the non-profit National Housing Conference's Center for Housing Policy has determined that affordable housing is an important part in improving the health and well-being of both young and not-so-young.

“Housing has a significant influence on the health outcomes among lower-income and special-needs populations,” said Dr. Lisa Sturtevant, director of the Center for Housing Policy. “It is important for housing advocates and policymakers to use this information to help make the case for additional investments in affordable housing. Members of the housing and health communities must join together to utilize affordable housing as part of an overall strategy for improving and supporting the health of low-income individuals.”

The new report determined that the therapeutic benefits of affordable housing include financial considerations (less money spent on housing can be used for nutritious food and health care expenditures), emotional health (a decrease in stress tied to housing-related matters), physical health (especially if the affordable housing fits into the green building concept) and educational and professional self-improvement (especially if the affordable housing is located in what the survey dubs “neighborhoods of opportunity”).

The new report updates the Center’s 2011 research brief and can be found online here.

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Responding to an outpouring of complaints, Governor Christie’s administration has substantially revised a plan that sought to revamp housing and service programs for adults with developmental disabilities so that they are less isolated from the community.

Eliminated from the plan was a hotly contested proposal that would have required disabled adults to be working, volunteering or taking part in recreation activities outside their day program centers for 75 percent of the day.

Hundreds of people wrote or spoke out in opposition to that rule — calling it unrealistic, inflexible and costly — prompting the administration to soften the language to merely dictate that a “majority” of the participants’ time be spent in “integrated activities” that can take place inside or outside the center.

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Inside a brightly painted, converted home in Fair Lawn, 25 developmentally disabled adults spend their days cooking, gardening, taking exercise classes and working side by side at large tables, packaging plastic combs, toothbrush holders and soap dishes for a local company. 

Everything they do, they do together. They’re watched over by the six staff members of the Opportunity Center, a day program for adults with special needs established nearly 50 years ago.The scene is different at a newer day program in Wyckoff for 11 autistic adults. They report to their work stations inside an office suite at the YMCA every morning, their first task is to check their daily planners, each filled with individualized to-do lists. A couple will then head off to a job in the kitchen at a corporate building, while two others might go to a volunteer stint at an animal shelter as another pair spends an hour folding napkins at a restaurant in Ridgewood.

Their days are a mix of work, volunteering, exercising and lunch at restaurants. They are trailed the entire time by one of the many job coaches at the 5-year-old program, some getting one-on-one attention.

The two programs are not just born of different eras, but also different visions — one where some participants have been comfortable for decades, the other emphasizing work and interaction in the community — for how the 28,000 special-needs adults in New Jersey should spend their days.

Under a controversial plan being considered by the state Division on Developmental Disabilities, the Fair Lawn program could be in jeopardy.

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By Brent Johnson

TRENTON — In yet another rebuke to Gov. Chris Christie's handling of New Jersey's affordable housing system, a state appeals court Thursday blocked the governor's attempt to help balance the state budget by seizing trust funds that towns use to build homes for low- and moderate-income residents.

Christie has tried since 2012 to take more than $160 million from the funds, which were raised from feeds municipalities collected from developers. State law requires municipalities to use the money to subsidize construction of affordable housing.

But the three-judge appellate panel banned Christie's administration from grabbing the money and said judges will now decide on a case-by-case basis how the money should be used in towns across the state.

A spokesman for Christie's office did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The decision is the latest chapter in a decades-long saga over affordable housing in New Jersey — and the second court decision against the Christie administration's handling of the issue in a month.

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