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Member news

News and information about SHA member organzations

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:

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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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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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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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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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