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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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Advocates Challenge Local Ordinances Targeting New Jersey’s Homeless

Successful challenge to New Brunswick panhandling ban spurs statewide look at municipal ordinances deemed violations of free-speech rights

homeless

Advocates for the homeless hope New Brunswick’s recent agreement to repeal local ordinances that ban panhandling will send a message to other communities in the state with similar laws.

The lawsuit and settlement centered on John Fleming, a homeless man who was arrested numerous times on charges that his panhandling violated two city ordinances.

The New Jersey chapter of the ACLU joined with the McCarter & English law firm to represent both the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness and Fleming, arguing that the man’s right to free speech had been violated.

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Posted by on in Housing models

By Andrew Segedin | Staff Writer | The Montclair Times

With affordable-housing options for local seniors at a premium, HomeSharing Inc. launched operations in Montclair.

HomeSharing, according to Lifelong Montclair Project Director Katie York, is an organization that works to match homeowners looking to share their homes with seekers who are looking for affordable-housing opportunities. The program has operated at the county-level in Middlesex, Hunterdon, Union, Morris and Somerset counties, according to York. Montclair is the program's first individual municipality.

Click here to read the article

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By Andrew Kitchenman, NJSpotlight.com | February 9, 2015

Experts: Bridging gap requires better cooperation and communication between insurer and providers and with patients about mental-health and addiction services

Not enough New Jerseyans who need treatment for mental illnesses and addiction are receiving adequate and timely help.

But the situation could improve drastically if healthcare providers and insurers work together more effectively to reach patients, according to experts examining the issue.

Click here to read the article

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Posted by on in Families and consumers

From the NJ Department of Human Services
Statewide Transition Plan

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule on January 16, 2014 to ensure that Medicaid's home and community-based services (HCBS) programs provide full access to the benefits of community living and offer services in the most integrated settings. New Jersey's Transition Plan outlines the steps required to come into full compliance with the final rule by March 17, 2019 for Medicaid's New Jersey 1115 Comprehensive Waiver Demonstration and the 1915 (c) Community Care Waiver.

Pursuant to 42 CFR §441.301(c)(4)(5) and 42 CFR §441.710(a)(1)(2), the final rule gives states until March 17, 2015 to submit a Statewide Transition Plan and hold a 30-day public comment period as part of the state's compliance with the HCBS settings requirements. The 30-day public comment period begins January 26, 2015 and ends, February 26, 2015.
Information regarding public comment rules:
http://www.nj.gov/humanservices/dmahs/info/HCBS_Rules_Public_Notice.pdf

Read the plan here:
http://www.nj.gov/humanservices/dmahs/info/Statewide_Transition_Plan.pdf
See companion documents here:
http://www.nj.gov/humanservices/dmahs/info/STP_Crosswalk.pdf

Comments on the Statewide Transition Plan, and its companion documents, should be submitted in writing by February 26, 2015 to:
email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or by mail to:
HCBS Rules
C/O Lowell Arye, Deputy Commissioner
NJ Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 700, Trenton, NJ  08625-0700.

The State will hold Transition Plan input sessions for the public on the following dates, and in the following locations:
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
10:00 A.M. to Noon
NJ Department of Human Services
222 South Warren Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
 
 
Thursday, February 19, 2015
10:00 A.M. to Noon
DCF Training Facility
30 Van Dyke Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Individuals interested in attending the public input session, and/or submitting written testimony, should call to register with DHS by calling Diane Flynn at (609)689-6714, or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Due to time constraints, testimony at the hearings will be limited to three minutes per speaker, and one speaker per organization.
Special accommodations can be provided upon request.

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The Supreme Court is to hear a case involving the low-income housing tax credit as state and local opposition simmers

By Lawrence Lanahan, Aljazeera America

“At the heart of the debate over low-income housing developments like the one planned by Enterprise Homes is the question “Who gets to live where?” Good schools and low crime often go hand in hand with high rents and home values, and policies throughout the 20th century pushed recipients of family housing assistance into areas of concentrated poverty and racial isolation. Over time, the explicit intent to segregate — as seen, for example, in separate housing projects for white and black residents — has faded, but segregated residential patterns have persisted. Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, jurisdictions receiving U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding must take active steps to undo the legacy of segregation.”

Click to read the article

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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.

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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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