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Lilo Stainton or NJ Spotlight December 21, 2017

Some providers of services to thousands of severely disabled New Jerseyans are nervous about potential downsides of big changes in way they are paid

Heading into 2018, organizations that offer community housing and other services to more than 10,000 seriously disabled New Jerseyans are in the midst of a major payment reform that could prove disruptive to both providers and those they assist.

State officials point out that the shift from a decades-old system of annual contract payments to a model in which providers are reimbursed for specific client services will eventually give more options to residents and their families and allow the Garden State to access additional federal Medicaid dollars — money that can be used to expand and create more sustainable services in the future. Some providers also believe the change can strengthen the industry in the long run.

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New York, New Jersey and Connecticut must reform their governing institutions, overhaul and integrate their transit networks, fight climate change, and make it less costly to live in the region. Those are the four major thematic prescriptions of the Fourth Regional Plan, a comprehensive vision released on Thursday by the Regional Plan Association (RPA), a prominent urban think tank that has advocated for comprehensive urban development projects in the tri-state region for more than 90 years.    

The RPA is a private group composed of urban experts and business leaders who first came together to release a broad holistic plan for the New York metropolitan region in 1929. It has since grown into an influential research and advocacy organization and many of its proposals have informed state and local policy. The latest plan, as with past documents, proposes long-term solutions to major urban issues such as economic growth, mass transit, affordability, and housing.

The new plan is “much more inclusive” than past iterations, said RPA President Tom Wright, at the Thursday release at The New School in Manhattan. The RPA sought input from civic groups, community-based organizations, and thousands of residents from the region, he said, and employed analytical data tools that were unavailable in the past.

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Based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2015 COLA is 1.7%. The SSI federal benefit rate for an individual is increasing to $733 and the SSI federal benefit rate for an eligible couple is increasing to $1100.00.
 
There are no changes to New Jersey’s optional state supplement payments.  The payments remain the same as in 2014 for each living arrangement category.

Click here to see the 2015 New Jersey Supplemental Security Income Payment chart or to learn how to access your social security account online.

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Federal Budget Cuts Hurt Low-Income Residents Who Need Housing Vouchers

From www.njspotlight.com | By Colleen O'Dea | December 12, 2014

Spending reductions worsen squeeze for those who need help to pay New Jersey’s high rents

“Housing advocates are urging Congress to restore housing vouchers to their pre-sequestration levels to reduce waiting lists and help more New Jerseyans afford a decent place to live.”

Click here to read the article and view interactive map of where housing vouchers are being used by local housing authorities

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By Deb Wentz, NJAMHAA

On Wednesday, September 3, the Supportive Housing Association (SHA) of New Jersey held its first Open House membership meeting. The meeting featured several guest speakers discussing the latest issues and systems changes impacting supportive housing:
 
Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS)
Valerie Mielke, Assistant Director of DMHAS, gave updates on the Division's awards for services for people with substance use disorders (SUDs) and co-occurring disorders (CODs) and the recent Requests for Proposals (RFPs) awarded by DMHAS and also provided anticipated actions for the year ahead.
 
The Division is serving people impacted by Hurricane Sandy who have SUDs, mental illness or CODs. To date, for supportive housing for people with SUDs, there have been 140 slots awarded, with 76 people awaiting placement and 26 people already placed in housing. For supportive housing for people with mental illness or CODs, there have been 155 slots awarded, 123 people are awaiting housing and 25 people have already been placed in housing. DMHAS also awarded contracts for 15 beds for persons with significant forensic backgrounds, 25 slots for Residential Intensive Support Teams (RIST) in Mercer and Middlesex Counties for persons with complex co-occurring conditions, 15 slots for medically enhanced housing, 45 slots for generic supportive housing, 17 beds for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses and 25 beds for medically enhanced RIST teams.
 
In the coming year, DMHAS is anticipating 200 new supportive housing opportunities for individuals in state hospitals along with expanding RIST and Programs for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT).
 
Assistant Director Valerie Mielke noted that the state is de-coupling services from the housing. Going forward, DMHAS RFPs for supportive housing will only include funding for the actual services provided at supportive housing locations. The actual housing subsidies will be managed by the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA). This is a vast departure from the current system where housing and services are bundled fiscally.
 
Department of Children and Families (DCF)
DCF Commissioner Allison Blake, PhD, LSW, noted that DCF sees supportive housing as a child welfare intervention. DCF has been working with Community Access to develop housing for youth aging out of the child welfare system for the past three years. Piloting the "Keeping Families Together" model, DCF is working with NJAMHAA member organization FAMILYConnections to offer supportive housing to 10 welfare involved families where the heads of household often have CODs.
 
Commissioner Blake underscored that DCF is enthusiastic about this model as its launch in New York City had reduced foster care services by 41 percent and stabilized families by preventing children from having to go to other homes and kept them with their biological families and kin. She also noted that the model provides evidence-based practices, such as trauma informed services, and that DCF released a Request for Information in July to expand the model further into the southern part of the state.
 
Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD)
Tom Papa, CFO, spoke about the July 1, 2015 deadline when the new DDD fee-for-service (FFS) rates will take effect. At the same time, DDD will de-link itself from funding any housing services and will fund only services for the individuals. As with DMHAS, individuals who had been receiving housing from DDD will now have their housing funded through HMFA.

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