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By Star-Ledger guest columnists Frank Argote-Freyre and Richard T. Smith

For the past five years, the Christie Administration has, at every turn, tried to undermine New Jersey’s Fair Housing Act, which guarantees that communities cannot use unfair land-use laws to keep out lower-income families, seniors and people with special needs. It is clear Gov. Chris Christie is opposed to this law. He called the original lawsuit that led to it, brought by two local chapters of the NAACP against Mount Laurel Township, an “abomination.” The NAACP acted, at that time, to prevent the displacement of a vibrant African-American community with a long history in the region.

Click here to read the full article

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

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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Supreme Court Argument Today, January 6, 2015

Today at 10 am, the New Jersey Supreme Court will hear Fair Share Housing Center's (FSHC) motion to enforce litigants rights, which was filed after the Christie Administration failed to meet a November 17, 2014 deadline for adopting new rules under the Fair Housing Act.  You can watch the argument live here: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/webcast/index.htm.
 
The case results from the Christie Administration's failure to adopt rules to implement the New Jersey Fair Housing Act, which the Supreme Court had previously ordered it to do by February 26, 2014 and then granted an extension until November 17, 2014.  Because even with that additional time the Christie Administration failed to adopt rules, FSHC is now asking the Court to allow the Fair Housing Act to be implemented through the trial courts rather than through the Council on Affordable Housing's (COAH) administrative process for which no rules exist.  For more details about how we got to this point, see this information we shared yesterday.
 
"We need a path forward for fair housing in New Jersey, given the Christie Administration's refusal to comply with one deadline after another for coming up with new rules," FSHC attorney Kevin Walsh, who is arguing today's case, stated. "The Court should require a fair process that includes everyone to address New Jersey's need for more homes. Since the Christie Administration won't enforce the law at the state level, local courthouses in each county are the best place to resolve these issues. New Jersey simply can't afford more delays in building homes for working families, lower-income seniors, and people with special needs."
 
The Christie Administration's refusal to enforce fair standards for homes across New Jersey has taken New Jersey off of a path of success towards a path for further exclusion and slower economic growth:
Over the past 30 years, more than 60,000 homes affordable to low- and moderate-income families, seniors, and people with special needs have been built in communities that otherwise would have excluded those homes. More than 200,000 New Jersey residents have greater economic and educational opportunities as a result.

According to a study by Rutgers University professor Stuart Meck, this has had a broader impact on the housing market in New Jersey in general, especially on middle class families. An additional 100,000 homes affordable to middle-class people have been built as towns allow for more starter homes than permitted by their previous zoning laws. This meant that, compared to states with similar land use policies, New Jersey had a much less rapid increase in housing prices in the 1990s- not just for lower-income families, but also middle-class families. Meck found that "New Jersey was the only smart growth state to add significantly to its multifamily and rental stocks and to post limited increases in the share of cost-burdened households...Its statewide housing program, the progeny of several state supreme court decisions, clearly propelled the production of affordable housing."

More than 40,000 additional homes are scheduled to be built - all of which are in jeopardy absent a way of enforcing New Jersey's Fair Housing Act. Many towns instead of moving forward are excluding these homes - with negative consequences not only for lower-income families but also for the broader economy.

Employers who leave New Jersey repeatedly cite a lack of affordable homes for entry- and mid-level workers as a key reason why they chose to take their business to other states. Reversing four decades of precedent would make the problem much worse. Almost every major New Jersey business group urged Governor Christie to pursue a policy that would foster, rather than hinder, development of a wide range of housing choices for their employees.

"Today's argument has the potential to get New Jersey back on track in creating opportunity for tens of thousands of people and strengthening our economy," Walsh added. "It also, at bottom, is a basic question of enforcing the law: if elected officials can refuse to follow laws on the books and court orders, there are grave consequences for our democratic system."

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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 Beth Miller, The News Journal

A civil rights battle has been simmering not far below the surface of local and national discussions on how and where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – people with Down syndrome or autism, for example – might live and work in the future.

One key part of the debate centers on whether government funds should be spent on congregate housing arrangements – group homes, villages, neighborhoods, where people with such disabilities are the primary residents.

Click here to read the article

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By Kathryn Brenzel | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

At least 800 people lined up in Hoboken on Wednesday for a chance to obtain Section 8 Housing Choice rental assistance vouchers.

Read the article on NJ.com.

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Posted by on in COAH

Agrees With Over 3,000 Commenters that New Fair Housing Rules Deeply Flawed, Need Reworking
 
From Fair Share Housing Center
10/20/14 – In a deadlocked 3-3 vote this morning, the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) Board rejected the Christie Administration's proposed fair housing rules. The rules, which drew over 3,000 public comments, the vast majority in opposition, relied on flawed data, some of which had apparently been lost by the Administration, and would have resulted in thousands of fewer homes for working families, low-income seniors, and people with special needs.
 
The votes against the proposal by former Manasquan Mayor John Winterstella, Project Freedom Executive Director Tim Doherty, and Fair Lawn resident Ted King came after the same three Board members had attempted to get the Christie Administration to agree to a 60-day period for further review of the voluminous comments. However, DCA Commissioner Richard Constable, NJ HMFA Executive Director Anthony Marchetta, and New Jersey League of Municipalities President and Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters voted against further review of public comments and sought to adopt the flawed rules as is, thus setting the stage for the defeat of the rules.
 
"We applaud the leadership of the members of the COAH Board who today rejected the Christie Administration's deeply flawed fair housing rules," Fair Share Housing Center Staff Attorney Adam Gordon said. "They rightly recognized that these proposed rules would have hindered, rather than furthered, homes being built, and wanted to listen to the public's call for change."
 
Public opposition on the rules centered on several areas including:
 
* The Christie Administration's claim that they had lost the data used to recalculate municipalities' prior housing obligations dating back to 1993 - which threatened to upend housing plans going back decades for no discernable reason;
 
* Grossly inaccurate mapping, including maps that placed thousands of parcels located in Monmouth County in Ocean County, thus erroneously reducing fair housing obligations of Monmouth County communities and inflating those of Ocean County communities;
 
* Arbitrarily taking away rules designed to produce housing for working families and people with special needs, including rules to ensure that some homes would be available for those needing rental housing and to allow a broad range of people with special needs to be served;
 
* Focusing only on development of undeveloped farms and forests and not focusing on redevelopment despite data showing that most development in New Jersey over the last several years has been redevelopment;
 
* Reducing standard percentages of homes affordable to low- and moderate-income households in mixed-income development from 15-20 percent to 10 percent;
 
* Artificially reducing statewide housing production figures by assuming that New Jersey's economy will remain in the same economic condition as the 2008 recession through at least 2024.
 
The decision today apparently leaves the State unable to meet the Supreme Court's November 17, 2014, deadline for publishing new rules, which itself was a nearly nine month extension from the original February 26, 2014, deadline.
 
 
Contact:  Adam Gordon - 856-577-7043 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Times of Trenton guest opinion column by Ann Brady

“Rather than wrangle over the new COAH rules and what they mean, wouldn’t planning efforts be better spent determining how to build low- and moderate-income housing where it is most needed to benefit our economy and our society? People of all backgrounds — senior citizens, families with children, people facing health challenges or disabilities — live in or need affordable housing.”

Brady argues that the shortage of affordable housing cannot be solved at a municipal level, but requires regional/statewide planning.

Click here to read the article.

Ann Brady is executive director of PlanSmart NJ, an independent, nonprofit civic planning and research organization.

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2014 SHA NJ Supportive Housing Award Winners

2014 SHA NJ Direct Support Staff Award


Demond Doman, PennReach

2014 SHA NJ Supportive Housing Resident Award


David Sonn, Triple C Housing



2014 SHA NJ Innovation Award


CSPNJ Wellness/Self-Help Centers



2014 SHA NJ Civic Leadership Award


William Waldman



2014 SHA NJ Supportive Housing Project Award 


(Small-Scale Development)


The Beck House / Hammonton, NJ


The Arc of Atlantic County



2014 SHA NJ Supportive Housing Project Award 


(Mid-Size Development)


Drill Apartments / Montclair, NJ


Mental Health Association of Essex County



2014 SHA NJ Supportive Housing Project Award


(Large-Scale Development)


Springside Apartments / Burlington, NJ

Conifer Realty, LLC & MEND, Inc.
 


SHA extends our thanks to all of this year's nominees.

Awards will be presented at the NJ Supportive Housing Conference on Friday, December 5.

We encourage you to congratulate the award winners by attending the conference and by purchasing an award tribute ad.
Click here for more information.

For more information about the awards and judging criteria, click here.

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SHA member agency Greater Trenton Behavioral Heathcare and the Good Care Collaborative sponsored this event chronicled by NJ Spotlight which highlights the success of Housing First as a means of eradicating chronic homelessness through rebalancing public funds and providing each person a place to live. SHA has identified Housing First as a key advocacy initiative and continues to appeal to Commissioner Velez and Governor Christie to adopt the model by becoming a Housing First state.

NJspotlight.com | Andrew Kitchenman | October 1, 2014

Finding homes for the homeless is seen as first step toward improving health, lowering costs of medical and social services

An effort to improve the health of the homeless in New Jersey is gaining the attention of legislative and insurance-industry leaders, laying the groundwork for the statewide expansion of a program that concentrates on finding housing for the homeless before focusing on healthcare services.

Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald (D-Burlington and Camden) expressed enthusiasm for expanding Housing First. He noted that the most recent count of homeless residents found 13,900 in the state. He added that many of them make frequent trips to the emergency room or require inpatient stays at hospitals, at a cost of $2,000 per day and with longer average hospital stays than patients who have someplace to live.

“By giving them the dignity of a home, a roof over their head, that sense of security, we can start to avoid those costs,” as well as additional costs from jails and other services that are required to help homeless residents whose mental-health needs aren’t addressed, Greenwald said.

Click here to read the article

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Housing advocates (including SHA) want the laws governing affordable housing to remain intact which means requiring towns to contribute their fair share of affordable units through an equitable and logical statewide formula. We also believe it is important to fund these units through a surcharge on developers (non residential housing development fees) which creates a growing fund at the municipal level for capital financing of affordable housing. The Governor, by conditionally vetoing this legislation on residential fees has added recommendations to alter and weaken the Fair Housing Act which he hopes the Assembly will adopt and then he will sign the bill.

If we (and other affordable housing advocates) had our way we would want the Governor to end the moratorium on residential fees (veto the bill outright) and separately obey various court orders that instruct him to properly utilize the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) which is required to draft new rules for towns to abide by in their adherence to the Mt Laurel Doctrine and the Fair Housing Act.

People with disabilities need affordable housing, as advocates, we want the Governor to obey the law, not rewrite it or dismantle it. If you are to reach out to your legislators, you would ask them not to take the Governor's conditional veto seriously. Urge them to do nothing or withdraw the bill which means the moratorium will expire, fees will be levied and no change to the NJ Fair Housing Act (which protects people of low and moderate income) will occur through legislative action.

Read more:

NJspotlight.com
Conditional Veto Could Gut Affordable-Housing Policies, Advocates Say
By Hank Kalet
Governor argues that it’s time for Legislature to significantly revise New Jersey’s landmark law

northjersey.com
Christie criticized on building fees
By Kathleen Lynn
He is using issue to seek affordable housing changes, say developers, advocates

Governor Christie has drawn criticism from both developers and housing advocates for halting an effort to ease fees on developers, while using the issue to propose a wide range of changes to the state's affordable-housing policies.
- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/christie-criticized-on-building-fees-1.1088057#sthash.bFcCAkpB.dpuf


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Proposal Would Create a Divided State, Further Delay Sandy Recovery

From Fair Share Housing Center
Trenton, NJ - Governor Christie yesterday in the guise of conditionally vetoing legislation that would have suspended the non-residential developer fee, proposed to eviscerate New Jersey's fair housing laws, effectively eliminating any requirement for every municipality to allow its fair share of homes that working families, seniors, and people with special needs can afford. The proposal replaces New Jersey's fair housing law with a token requirement that every new residential development pay a fee of $1,000 per home, to be used to undertake minor repairs such as repairing roofs on existing homes. There is no requirement in the bill to provide a single additional home anywhere in the state - ever.
 
"Governor Christie's proposal would further divide our state.  It would create two New Jerseys where people are divided by race and class and would be highly detrimental to the future of our state.  Governor Christie apparently has not learned the lesson that segregation is bad for our state and our nation," Fair Share Housing Center Associate Director Kevin Walsh said. "Governor Christie's housing proposal would allow the wealthy to live in isolated enclaves and to put up gates that exclude working families, seniors, and people with special needs, especially people of color. That's not good for our society or our economy."
 
The proposed legislation, which is heavily modeled after legislation that Governor Christie put forward over three years ago in conditionally vetoing fair housing legislation passed by both houses in early 2011, would replace all current fair housing requirements with a $1,000 per new home fee towards minor repairs. That fee would satisfy any municipal housing obligation - leaving no requirement for any municipality to create a single new home.
 
"Governor Christie's fair housing proposal hits particularly hard in the communities that still haven't recovered from Sandy," Walsh added. Governor Christie should know, if he listened at all during his boardwalk tours this summer, that there is still a desperate need for replacement apartments and major repairs nearly two years after the storm, that a token fee of $1,000 will do nothing to address."
 
"Governor Christie's proposal also hits people with special needs particularly hard. As developmental centers are shut down and people struggle to find decent homes in integrated community settings, Governor Christie's message could not be clearer: there is no place for you."
 
The conditionally vetoed legislation now goes to the Legislature, which the last time it was faced with similar legislation after Christie's 2011 veto withdrew the bill after it became clear that Governor Christie was not interested in doing anything real about the need for homes in our state.
 
"We need to actually build homes if people are going to have places to live," Walsh added. "Unfortunately, Governor Christie's proposal destroys replaces the laws that are in place with a gimmick that will lead nowhere."
 
The conditional veto can be downloaded here
.

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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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Posted by on in Uncategorized

SHA applauds Mayor DeBlasio and the city of New York for requiring affordable housing in all future development projects! — Gail Levinson, SHA

“…In the most forceful remarks yet of an administration determined to reshape the cityscape, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top planning official declared on Friday that affordable units will be a requirement for any future real estate project requiring a zoning change from the city.”

Click here to read the New York Times article.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_MovingOut.jpg

By Dafna Krouk-Gordon and Barbara D. Jackins. Woodbine House, 2013 | ISBN 978-1-60613-021-6

Reviewed by Marty Rudolph, parent of a 44-year-old daughter with developmental disabilities who is still living at home in South Jersey. | September 2, 2014

With the publication of this unique book, there is hope that we are rounding the corner away from institutions toward community living for citizens with disabilities. Here is both a state of the union compendium of practices and legalities and a D.I.Y. guide for families from two professionals who have lived it for decades.

Nine chapters guide families through the emotional, legal, financial and strategic planning from getting ready through identifying best residential options to moving out and beyond. This is a nuts-and-bolts manual loaded with real-life examples from the authors’ experiences and an exhaustive set of appendices, sample documents and forms.

Clearly there is a focus on creating homes for unique individuals, using those structures currently in place through local, state and federal governments as well as private and personal resources, if available. Living in New Jersey, instead of Massachusetts, means that some regulations and some resources differ for us, requiring extra homework but also opening our eyes to additional pursuits.

Get this book into the hands of families with children of any age who are likely to need supported living. It can be a trail guide. Offer it to agencies, advocates and professionals who work to help people with disabilities live and work in their communities. Give some feedback to the authors too, so they can revise and update this guide regularly as the scope of community living for our family members changes and expands.

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Posted by on in Veterans

The VA has and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have challenged America’s mayors — 13 of them in New Jersey so far — to permanently house homeless vets and give them life-sustaining services by 2015. Watch the video on njtvonline.org

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The Fair Share Housing Center has reported in its press release below, today's decision by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to approve $14 Million in municipal housing trust funds, a portion of which will be used for the construction or rehab of housing units for special needs populations. We wholly concur with Kevin Walsh's remarks which acknowledge COAH moving forward with these approvals and urging the Council to continue this important work with many more projects statewide that remain in limbo. SHA also views this development in a positive light. We remain hopeful that more and more people of low and moderate income will have access to affordable homes over the next years as COAH continues to do its job.     —Gail Levinson, SHA

Council on Affordable Housing Votes Today Start Process of Finding Municipalities Can Spend Housing Trust Funds

From The Fair Share Housing Center

Trenton, NJ - In a meeting held this morning, the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) released housing trust funds held by 13 municipalities totaling $14 million: Cherry Hill, Manasquan, Long Hill, Tinton Falls, Gloucester City, Florence, Randolph, North Caldwell, Summit, Lawrence, Mendham, South Brunswick, and Clifton. The release of the funds will support the construction and rehabilitation of homes throughout the state and begin a process that FSHC anticipates will result in a substantial majority of over $160 million once at risk being approved for use by municipalities and non-profit organizations.
 
"This is a good start that will result in homes in 13 municipalities being available to lower-income families, seniors, and people with special needs," said Kevin D. Walsh, Associate Director of Fair Share Housing Center. "Throughout the state, there will be new homes, and existing homes will be improved. We are pleased to see that the state has started this process and look forward to this moving forward so that money needed to build homes for lower-income New Jerseyans is available."
 
The released funds, which COAH has found are committed for expenditure and green-lighted to be used in the ways proposed by municipalities, support a variety of projects including:
 
• $3 million to South Brunswick, where Foxchase Development is working with The Rose House and New Bridge Services, organizations that serve the developmentally disabled community
•  $1.3 million to Tinton Falls to assist Fox Chase II, a section of Fox Chase, an inclusionary development, with a deed extension program, affordability assistance, and capital repairs for failing decks on the affordable units.
•  $1.5 million to Randolph for its work with Morris Habitat for Humanity for development of approximately 25 "for sale" affordable units on a 2.5-acre property owned by the Township and to be donated to Habitat as well as funds for new construction and affordability assistance for affordability assistance to be administered by Habitat.
• $403,747 to Long Hill for health and safety improvements at Lounsberry Meadow, which is an existing facility for seniors and the developmentally disabled. Proposed expenditures include an emergency electric generator and ADA improvements.
• $348,726 to North Caldwell for the Hilltop Redevelopment project.
• $600,000 to Summit in support of the municipality's Housing Rehabilitation Program
• $666,759 to Gloucester Township for the future development of age-restricted affordable housing.
•  $867,839 to Clifton to support the development of two special needs group homes.
•  $48,557 to Mendham to aid Mendham Area Senior Housing (MASH) in providing rental subsidies to very low and low income households.
 
The funds approved today as being committed for expenditure were reviewed by COAH under a 2008 law that is intended to ensure that municipalities spend funds entrusted to them within four years. For the past two years, the state, after initially threatening to take all available funds and including them in the general fund, failed to move forward with the seizure. Today's vote concludes the process as to those 13 municipalities. More than $140 million in additional funds remain to be reviewed by the agency in future meetings.
 
"While this is a good start, it is important to see what happens next," said Walsh. "We know that there is $14 million that has been protected and we want to know that more decisions will be made soon to get more funding out the door so it can be used."
 
Kevin D. Walsh, Esq.


Fair Share Housing Center


510 Park Boulevard
Cherry Hill, New Jersey  08002


P:  856-665-5444


F: 856-663-8182

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

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Posted by on in Veterans

Urge Your Mayor to Sign On in Support!

From The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, an initiative aimed at building a national coalition of mayors and other public officials committed to ending veteran homelessness in their cities by the end of 2015. At the present, only nine NJ mayors have signed on in support. New Jersey can do better!

Homelessness has increased nearly 16 percent from 2013 to 2014, all mayors in our state should join in this effort to ensure that by the end of 2015, no veterans in New Jersey will be homeless.

Talk to your mayor and urge them to accept the challenge. Once they agree, all they need to do is:
Let HUD, USICH, and the VA know that they're committed by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Tell the public! Send out a press release; or hold a press conference or their own twitter town hall; or any other way they communicate with their constituencies.
 
More information about the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness can be found on HUD's website or by clicking here.

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SHA looks forward to working with the Department of Human Services' new Office of Housing to achieve more opportunities across populations and to expand the housing stock and supports for those on low incomes living with special needs. Together we hope to problem solve, find creative solutions and work collaboratively toward common goals. — Gail Levinson, Executive Director, SHA


From Liz Shea, Assistant Commissioner, NJDHS, Division of Developmental Disabilities:

Medicaid Fee for Service Implementation
 
Following the release of the Final Rate Report and Rate Schedule on July 18th, the Division has received numerous requests for information and further clarification about the rates and the intended rollout of the Medicaid-based Fee for Service (FFS) System. At this time, it is expected that the Division’s final transition from a contracted reimbursement system to a Medicaid-based fee-for-service (FFS) model will be implemented in 2015.
 
Steps toward that implementation have already begun, and we are developing a FFS Implementation timeline and other materials to assist stakeholders in understanding the various phases of the transition. Visit our Fee for Service Implementation web page, where new information will be posted by the end of August, or email questions or concerns to our dedicated Fee for Service Help Desk at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Housing
 
Many individuals, families and providers have expressed concern about accessing housing in the Division’s new fee-for-service Medicaid model. In that model, the Division plays a major role in facilitating community-based housing by funding, through its Medicaid waivers, the Medicaid-eligible services that are necessary to support individuals in the community.
 
I am pleased to tell you that, in accordance with national trends and best practices in separating housing and services, and in promoting cross-disability housing, the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) established the DHS Office of Housing (OH), effective July 1, 2014. In collaboration with the divisions of DHS, the OH will develop and implement housing policy for DHS, as well as oversee the day to day housing activities of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Division of Developmental Disabilities. In addition, the responsibilities of the Office of Housing, which is being led by Janel Winter, will include:
 
· identifying housing priorities, models and innovations for people served by DHS
· developing and growing partnerships with state agencies including the state housing agency – the Department of Community Affairs, and the state housing finance agency – the Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency, as well as other public and private partners and all stakeholders
· ensuring a pipeline of affordable housing to meet DHS’s Olmstead obligations and other needs
· education and outreach on supportive and affordable housing for people with disabilities.
 
In FY15, in addition to the ongoing crucial responsibility of ensuring sufficient housing to meet DHS’s Olmstead obligations and other needs (including supporting the closure of the Woodbridge Developmental Center), the OH will pursue two key goals:
 
· Development of a plan for compliance with the new CMS Final Rule on HCBS settings
· Development of a clearinghouse for administration of DHS housing subsidies
 
The following resources will also be launched in the coming months:
 
· A Housing web page on the Division’s website
· A dedicated DHS Housing Help Desk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
· The Supportive Housing Education Project, which will offer extensive educational and technical assistance resources to individuals and families on mainstream affordable housing resources and ways to pair those resources with DDD’s services available through its Medicaid waivers to create new housing options


Pre-Service Training for Direct Support Professionals
 
In our ongoing effort to improve service quality, the Division is implementing changes to the pre-service training requirements for Direct Support Professionals. Please see the important notice below regarding the Medication Administration training module:
 
Mandatory On-site Competency Assessment
The New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities is committed to safe and effective medication administration practices in all settings, and has established new pre-service training guidelines regarding these practices.
 
The Division recognizes that regardless of format – whether classroom or online – the training component alone does not build the necessary skills for the safe administration of medication in community-based settings. Therefore, an on-site competency assessment will be required across the system for all agency staff that are required to administer medications, as follows:  
 
· Effective July 1, 2014

Agencies have the option to either (a) send staff Medication Administration Module classroom training, or (b) complete the Medication Administration module online through the College of Direct Support (CDS). On-site Competency Assessment is mandatory following the completion of CDS online training before agency staff can independently administer medications.
 
· Effective October 1, 2014

On-site Competency Assessment is mandatory following the completion of classroom training before agency staff can independently administer medications.
 
· By June 30, 2015

On-site Competency Assessment is mandatory and must be completed for ALL existing agency staff required to administer medications.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

A trend that might be food for thought for some in the disability community

For the eight years that she was based in Chicago, Katie Kirby happily lived by herself. When she moved to Manhattan three years ago, there didn't seem to be any reason for a different domestic arrangement, and she contentedly signed on for a one-bedroom on the Upper West Side.
Even so, this past May, she moved to a two-bedroom in North Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with a friend, Jennifer Keene, 40, who works in sports marketing and who had also been living alone.

It's true that money played a role in the decision  .... "But the larger reason is that New York can be kind of a lonely place," she said
 
"It's easy to get settled in one neighborhood or niche and to become less social. There are things you intend to do but talk yourself out of when you live alone. Having a roommate gets me out," added Ms. Kirby, whose social circle has expanded to include Ms. Keene's friends and colleagues. "And it's nice and surprisingly comforting to have someone there when you get home from a business trip."
 
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