By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
Our state is facing a gut-wrenching dilemma. On one side is a fearful group of parents who are trying to protect their severely developmentally disabled children from being moved out of homes where they’ve lived for decades.
On the other is the Christie administration and respected advocates for the seriously disabled, who are seeking to de-institutionalize people in favor of smaller, community-based services.
The question at stake: Should we bring about 470 disabled people living out of state back to New Jersey, and move hundreds of others being displaced from two closing in-state institutions to smaller, community-based housing?
Click to read the article
News about supportive housing, affordable housing, and housing for people with special needs in New Jersey.
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.
By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
Colleen O'Dea | NJSpotlight.com | August 14, 2014
Deal with Rutgers consultant was not signed until less than three weeks before court-ordered deadline for adopting housing rules
New Jersey’s contract with a Rutgers University consultant hired to draft proposed affordable- housing rules shows that the state could not have met a court-ordered February 26 deadline for adopting the new regulations.
Read the article at NJSpotlight.com
HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) issued Notice CPD-14-12 on July 28, “strongly encouraging” Continuums of Care (CoCs) to establish priorities for serving various categories of chronically homeless people in CoC Program-funded permanent supportive housing (PSH). The stated goal of the Notice is to ensure that homeless individuals and families with the most severe service needs receive priority. The Notice establishes an order of priority that HUD strongly encourages CoCs to adopt and incorporate into their written standards and coordinated assessment systems. If CoCs adopt the suggested priorities, then they can require recipients of CoC Program-funded PSH to follow the order of priority.
The Notice states that there are two significant ways CoCs can work toward ending chronic homelessness using their existing CoC program-funded PSH. One way is to prioritize non-dedicated PSH units for chronically homeless people by giving them admissions preference. The other way is to increase the number of CoC Program-funded PSH units dedicated to chronically homeless people. When a project’s grant agreement dedicates PSH units to chronically homeless people, only they may be served, unless no other client in the CoC programs meets the definition of chronically homelessness. A CoC may increase the number of units dedicated to chronically homeless people when a non-dedicated recipient requests a grant agreement amendment to dedicate units.
HUD defines people who have severe service needs to be those who either have a history of frequently using crisis services such as emergency rooms, psychiatric facilities, and jails, or who have significant health or behavioral challenges or functional impairments requiring a high level of support in order to maintain permanent housing.
Notice CPD-14-12 suggests four levels of priority for CoC Program-funded PSH that is either dedicated or prioritized:
1. First priority is for those who have severe service needs and who were chronically homeless for at least 12 months, either continuously or on at least four separate occasions that add up to 12 months over the last three years.
2. Second priority is for those who do not have severe service needs, but who were chronically homeless for the above time periods.
3. Third priority is for those who have severe service needs and who were chronically homeless on at least four separate occasions that add up to less than 12 months over the last three years.
4. Fourth priority is for those who do not have severe service needs, but who were chronically homeless for at least 12 months, either continuously or on at least four separate occasions that add up to less than 12 months over the last three years.
The order of priority for CoC Program-funded PSH that is not dedicated or prioritized is:
1. First priority is for individuals or families with a member with a disability and severe service needs, and who were homeless for any length of time, including those who are exiting an institution where they lived for 90 days or less but who were homeless before entering the institution.
2. Second priority is for individuals or families with a member with a disability who were homeless either continuously for six months or on at least three separate occasions that add up to six months over the last three years. This includes those exiting an institution where they lived for 90 days or less, but who were homeless either continuously for six months or on at least three separate occasions that add up to six months over the last three years before entering the institution.
3. Third priority is for individuals or families with a member with a disability who are homeless, including those exiting an institution where they lived for 90 days or less, but who were homeless before entering the institution.
4. Fourth priority is for individuals and families with a member with a disability who are:
a. Coming from transitional housing, but who were homeless before living in transitional housing.
b. Fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking who are living in transitional housing, even if they were not homeless before entering transitional housing.
Notice CPD-14-12 can be found here:
NJ's disabled are safe to live among us: Opinion
By Valerie Sellers, CEO, New Jersey Association of Community Providers | Letter to the Editor of the Star Ledger
As CEO of the New Jersey Association of Community Providers, I have too often read articles that state it is horrifically dangerous for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live within our communities, and that the only true place these individuals can be safe is within a developmental center, also known as an institution.
This position has been espoused almost routinely when discussions about closing developmental centers occurs or if there is a tragic event that results in the harm or death of someone living within a group home.
If harm to those residing in the community was imminent, then one must wonder how more than 27,000 people with these disabilities have managed to live rich and full lives in communities such as yours and mine; they are our neighbors and co-workers. They take walks through a park, go to the movies, travel to the Shore, among many other activities. They are given an opportunity to move beyond four walls and truly enjoy life.
I do not doubt that those concerned for the safety of these individuals living within the community genuinely believe this to be the case. In fact, with the media mostly covering extraordinary events, it’s not surprising that people with little or no experience with group homes and services for people in the community lack an understanding of why individuals are encouraged to live within a community.
What should be considered is that there are risks inherent in all of our lives. People die within the developmental centers as all people do within the community or while residing with their families. It is not due to the fact that individuals cannot receive the same services they receive in an institution.
People can receive services that meet their unique needs, including medically complex ones that require 24/7 nursing care, occupational, physical and speech therapy and any other services people need.
Finally, those working within group homes, known as direct support professionals, go through extensive training including six “critical” areas such as preventing abuse and neglect, medication administration and first aid.
They are given an opportunity to move beyond four walls and truly enjoy life.
Focusing on sensational stories gives rise to anger and hysteria that is not reflective of the truth. Instead, given the national trend is focusing on institutional closure, with 11 states not operating any large, state-run institutions, focus could be on what has been accomplished in the community.
What you don’t read or hear about are the transformations of individuals once they become members of a “family” within their group home — for example, becoming verbal for the first time in decades. What is even more rewarding is the pride people take in their accomplishments, many of which most people could not even imagine facing on a day-to-day basis.
For instance, the Barry twins, Pamela and Donna, lived in developmental centers for more than 50 years since they were 3. In the beginning the twins’ parents were not in favor of moving into the community until they explored all their options.
Both daughters use wheelchairs for mobility and have medical challenges, but, according to their parents, they are flourishing in the community and interacting for the first time during different community events such as dances. Their parents said the girls are “coming out of their shells” and they “cannot say enough good things about community living.”
NJACP just celebrated its 15th annual STARS Awards event, where 24 individuals were honored for overcoming challenges and obstacles to live rich, happy and productive lives. I would note that more than half of the recipients once resided in a developmental center.
So as New Jersey hosts the 2014 Special Olympics this week, please keep in mind that many of those competing once resided in an institution and are now gold, silver and bronze medalists.
Please be advised of Governor Christie's veto of legislation that would have slowed the process of moving people from NJ Developmental Centers and out of state facilities. SHA continues to encourage community living options for people with disabilities as institutions close, in a manner that provides proper care and services for those living with significant challenges.
Links to articles:
Families angry Christie vetoed, demanded changes to bills determining where disabled people will live
By Susan K. Livio | The Star-Ledger
Following Christie Vetoes, Families of Intellectually Disabled Fearful of Future
By Andrew Kitchenman | NJSpotlight.com
Senator Cory Booker with Monarch and New Jersey Delegation
By Kate Kelly, Monarch Housing
On July 30, 2014, our U.S. Senator Cory Booker gave a keynote at the National Alliance to End Homelessness annual conference. Booker spoke to an audience of over 1700 people including two tables of New Jersey constituents.
At the beginning of his remarks, Booker recognized those from New Jersey in the audience who are working to end homelessness.
Booker framed his argument for ending homelessness as our patriotic duty.
"Love of country means extending a hand to our brothers and sisters."
He also empathized the critical importance of data.
"In God we trust but, bring me data."
He pointed to New Jersey's recent NJ Counts documented 16% increase in homelessness and that homelessness is a growing problem that we need to solve.
"Homelessness is a greater drag on our economy than if we did something about it. Look at the data."
"We have to be those hopeful warriors now. This nation has so much work to do before we achieve the truth of who we are." But he concluded with a message of hope, "Our generation can indeed end homelessness."
From Tuesday, July 29, 2014 through Tuesday, August 5, 2014 applications will be available for the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Waiting List. Only applications for residents living and/or working in the Passaic County Public Housing Agency service area will be accepted. Their service area includes all of the towns in Passaic County with the exception of Passaic, Paterson and Clifton.
There is a Public Notice on their website that has instructions and the list of locations in which the applications will be available.
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to call Janice L. DeJohn, Executive Director, Passaic County Public Housing Agency at 973-881-4370
By David Matthau | New Jersey 101.5 Radio | July 28, 2014
New Jersey is one of the richest states in the nation, but its homeless population continues to increase.
Deb Ellis, Executive Director of the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness, on New Jersey 101.5 radio
It’s important that New Jersey make room for people of more modest means to live in the state as well, according to Ellis. “We have to speak out as citizens of our communities for more affordable housing for individuals with mental illness or physical disabilities, or other disabilities – as well as affordable housing for families just making modest incomes.”
Read More: High rents, low incomes causing homelessness to grow in NJ | http://nj1015.com/high-rents-low-incomes-causing-homelessness-to-grow-in-nj/?trackback=tsmclip
By Liz Lempert, Mayor, Princeton NJ | Star Ledger Guest Columnist
New Jersey's Council on Affordable Housing recently issued proposed third-round rules that conclude the municipality of Princeton has zero obligation to build additional affordable housing in our community. Some officials might be thrilled with the news that they have been absolved of any responsibility for addressing the housing needs of the less affluent. But I worry that this apparent free pass comes with serious costs to the health of our community and region.
Finds that other key document appears to have been destroyed
Fair Share Housing Center offers $1000 reward for document “lost” by Christie Administration
In a ruling late Thursday, the Hon. Mary C. Jacobson ordered the Christie Administration to make public its contract with Rutgers University professor Dr. Robert Burchell for creating the state's new fair housing rules. Judge Jacobson also found that a critical document showing how municipal housing obligations were recalculated in a way that reduces those obligations by over 8,000 homes had existed at one time, but had been destroyed. Judge Jacobson issued an order directing one final search of Rutgers University email accounts for the document.
"We agree with Judge Jacobson's ruling that the Christie Administration should not have hid from the public what it spent $295,000 of public funds on to produce these deeply flawed new housing rules," FSHC Staff Attorney Adam Gordon said. "It is a grave violation of the public trust for critical documents related to that contract to have been destroyed. We hope that by offering a public reward of $1000 for these destroyed documents someone will step forward and explain to the public what happened here."
The ruling, delivered from the bench late Thursday afternoon after oral argument on the case, requires the Christie Administration and Rutgers to make the contract public and conduct an email search for the destroyed document no later than 4 PM today. The Christie Administration and Rutgers immediately applied for a stay of the ruling so that they could appeal the ruling, and Judge Jacobson denied the stay.
Judge Jacobson found that the documents, which describe how the Christie Administration is retroactively attempting to reduce municipal housing obligations from the 1980s and 1990s by over 8,000 homes, did exist at one point. However, the documents have since been destroyed and both the Christie Administration and Rutgers asserted they could not find them in a search. Fair Share Housing Center attorney Kevin Walsh argued to the Court that Rutgers employees had not checked their email, which would be an obvious place the files might be, and Judge Jacobson agreed that an email search was required and gave them 24 hours to conduct it.
The $1000 reward will be given to the first person who provides a copy of a computer file or other document showing how the municipal obligations for 1987-1999 were recalculated that includes formulas at the municipal level showing the method by which the changes were made to municipal housing obligations. The reward is not open to employees of the State (including Rutgers) and only will be provided as consistent with any applicable laws (e.g. the person providing the document must have obtained it lawfully). The reward is open until July 31, as comments on the rules proposed by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) are due August 1.
Read the article on the Fair Share Housing Center’s Blog
SHA Board Member, Tom Toronto, and Fair Share Housing's Adam Gordon featured in segment on NJTV about proposed COAH rules
Lawsuit Over Affordable Housing Claims Lack of Transparency
Colleen O'Dea | www.NJSpotlight.com | July 3, 2014
Advocates argue regulations do not meet Supreme Court requirements, differ from rules adopted by council earlier in year.
Colleen O'Dea | June 27, 2014 | NJSpotlight.com
Fair Share seeks details of how new quotas were determined, gets heavily redacted document
The Fair Share Housing Center is again suing the Christie administration and Rutgers University for failing to provide documents related to the calculation of proposed new affordable-housing obligations that it requested under the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.
The safety of NJ residents should always be of top concern and priority however, the closure of institutions must continue so that people can be housed safely in community settings. These bills should not deter the Administration from community housing opportunities for people with developmental and other disabilities in NJ.
Susan K. Livio | The Star Ledger | nj.com
Bill to temporarily block closure of developmental centers lost support in the Senate, who approved a back-up plan that services comparable to those provided in the development centers would be given to anyone moved into other facilities.
The Warren County Housing Authority has opened its waiting list for Federal Section 8 Housing Vouchers. We are not sure how many remain open at this time. They are taking up to 500 names with priority for Warrant County residents but are also accepting applications from out of county. The Phillipsburg Public Housing Authority also has subsidized units available. See contact info below
Warren County Housing Office
Phillipsburg Housing Authority
One of SHA's central beliefs is in Housing First, a successful approach in housing stability for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Mercer County has been a leader in this effort at Greater Trenton Behavioral Health Services with support from the county government. Adopting Housing First statewide would reduce inappropriate use of emergency rooms and other high cost centers while restoring people to healthy, productive lives. It is a supportive housing model that offers housing along with behavioral and physical healthcare, that can eradicate chronic homelessness in NJ.
Fighting Illness and Healthcare Costs — Starting With a Place to Live
Andrew Kitchenman | June 25, 2014 | NJSpotlight.com
Trenton group sees success with Housing First approach to health, which makes getting homeless off the streets the top priority
Fair Share Housing Center, The Latino Action Network and the NAACP NJ Chapter all reached a voluntary agreement with HUD and the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to make substantial changes to the Sandy Disaster Relief Program known as the Fund for Restoration of MultiFamily Housing or FMR.
These changes offer significant opportunities for people of low income who may also live with special needs. Among the highlights of the agreement are set-asides of dollars for renters from affected Sandy counties who have been displaced as a result of the storm, recognition of very low income needs for rental housing, an increase of $10 million for special needs housing development (total now of $60 million in first and second rounds), and the requirement for DCA to apply to HUD for a waiver to allow other federal dollars (such as HOME) to be layered with Sandy funding to allow for expanded affordable housing development. The agreement also calls for training, counseling and transparency and outreach to minority populations.
Click here to read the agreement
Click here to read more about the agreement on the Fair Share Housing Center website
2014 NJ Point-in-Time Homelessness Count finds 16% increase in homelessness
On the night of January 28, 2014, 13,900 homeless men, women and children were counted across the state of New Jersey. This was an overall increase of 1,898 persons, or 15.8%, compared to the 2013 count.
Other key findings include:
• 1,499 persons, in 1,246 households, were identified as chronically homeless, an increase of 278 persons, or 22.7%, compared to 2013.
• 931 persons were living un-sheltered, a 33.4% decrease from 1,399 in 2013. This decrease may be due to the very cold weather over the time of the Count.
NJ Counts 2014 - the statewide point-in-time count of the homeless provides a snapshot of homelessness in New Jersey on the night of January 28, 2014. The count reflects a snapshot of homelessness in New Jersey that night.
Count Contacts by county
"Unfortunately, this year's count shows that there are still a significant number of adults and children experiencing homelessness in New Jersey. But at the same time we have best practices and interventions such as affordable and supportive housing, Housing First, Rapid Re-Housing and Centralized Assessment which we know work to end homelessness."
— Taiisa Kelly, Senior Associate at Monarch Housing who directed NJ Counts 2014.