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Daily Record, June 17, 2015

For low-income people with disabilities, New Jersey is not a welcoming place to live. Social services organizations are inundated with calls from people desperate for a place to call home.

There are about 120,000 adults with disabilities in N.J. who receive Social Security Supplemental Security Income benefits and live on less than $800 monthly. Approximately 41,000 receive federal and state housing assistance in subsidized units or through rental vouchers. This leaves 80,000 people with the difficult task of finding a place to live in one of the costliest states in the nation.

New Jersey has to start thinking differently about how to house its most vulnerable citizens. With a safe, affordable place to live that is close to family and friends, access to transportation, socialization and jobs, these individuals can contribute to society in positive ways.

Here are several ideas that can make a difference:

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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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SHA Hosts Campaign"Opening 1,000 Doors"

1,000+ have signed a petition to increase rental vouchers for people with disabilities in NJ


SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. May 19, 2015 -- The Supportive Housing Association of NJ is hosting a campaign for the 2016 state budget - Opening 1,000 Doors - calling for an additional 1,000 rental vouchers in the state budget so that people of very low income living with intellectual or developmental disabilities, people with mental illness and the homeless have a place to call home. Over 1,000 people have signed the organization's online petition that been sent to legislative leaders, members of the budget committees, Governor Christie and members of his cabinet. Rental vouchers subsidize the rents paid by very low-income individuals.



SHA urges others to support their efforts by signing the petition to open 1,000 doors for people with disabilities in the 2016 budget at

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by Laura Dudnick  for The San Francisco Examiner

The housing crisis in San Francisco has, if nothing else, prompted developers to think outside the box.

For the first time in The City’s history, a development firm has teamed up with a nonprofit organization to offer supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals and families, on the same site where market-rate housing will be constructed. It’s a move supporters hope will inspire future projects to follow suit.

But some feel the proposal at the decrepit and run-down Civic Center Hotel, owned by the Local 38 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, will not provide enough below market-rate homes in the thriving mid-Market area.

San Francisco-based Strada Investment Group has teamed up with Community Housing Partnership, The City’s only nonprofit that exclusively provides supportive housing to formerly homeless individuals and families. The firm and nonprofit will transform the hotel into a nearly 600-unit mixed-use development of multiple buildings, along with vehicle and bicycle parking and open space.

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The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) has released the results of the 2015 Out of Reach Report today at the Kilmer Homes in Edison. Click here to read more about today's event.

Here are several highlights from this year's study on rental home affordability from the National Low Income Housing Coalition: 

  1. New Jersey remains the fifth most expensive state for renters.
  2. The hourly housing wage in NJ for a two-bedroom rental at fair market rent is $25.17.
  3. The mean wage for a NJ renter is $16.92 an hour, well below the housing wage.
  4. At $16.92/hour, an individual would have to work 59 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
  5. Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Somerset counties are the most expensive for rentals while Cumberland is the most affordable of all the NJ counties
New Jersey data from Out of Reach 2015 is available here. For the complete report with national data, please visit .     

The Out of Reach report contains valuable information that supports the need for affordable homes in New Jersey. Use the data provided to make a case when speaking to legislators, funders, board members, reporters, clients, and supporters. Please use this media tool kit to help you get the word out and let everyone know why New Jersey needs more homes people can afford.

If you have any questions on Out of Reach, please contact Arnold Cohen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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Posted by on in OpEd

By JASON FURMAN  MAY 11, 2015 (Op-Ed Contributor New York Times)

Washington - Do government efforts to support low-income families work? Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, skeptics have argued that even if these programs provide temporary relief, the only long-term impact is increased dependency - witness, they say, the persistent lack of mobility in places like inner-city Baltimore.

But a growing body of research tells a very different story. Investments in education, income, housing, health care and nutrition for working families have substantial long-term benefits for children.

Consider Moving to Opportunity, an experiment in the 1990s that gave families housing assistance, in some cases contingent on their moving to less poor neighborhoods. Initial evidence from the randomized trial was disappointing, finding little or no improvements in test scores for children or earnings for adults. A new paper by the Harvard economists Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren and Lawrence F. Katz, however, followed the children for another decade. It found that traditional rental vouchers had increased their earnings as adults by 15 percent, and experimental vouchers, which required people to move to less poor neighborhoods, by 31 percent. The additional tax revenue from these higher earnings was enough to repay the program’s cost.

This is only the latest in a number of recent studies that use big data to understand the longer-term effects of a range of government programs.

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Forms Working Group to Continue Efforts Proposed by Interagency Council on Homelessness

                   For Immediate Release - April 24, 2015

                    Contact: Kevin Roberts       Brian Murray  609-777-2600

Trenton, NJ– Acting on recommendations from The Interagency Council on Homelessness, Governor Chris Christie today announced the formation of a Working Group to further explore ways in which to reduce and prevent homelessness in New Jersey. Specifically, the Working Group will consider implementation of the proposals put forth by the Interagency Council, including Housing First policies, Rapid Re-Housing, and improved coordination among state agencies and social service providers that deliver key services to homeless individuals and families and those at risk of homelessness.

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Joshua Burd, April 23, 2015 for NJBiz

Affordable housing advocates have identified the need for more than 200,000 low- and moderate-income units in New Jersey through 2025, in a report that could serve as a baseline for the state judiciary as it begins to sort out the obligations for individual municipalities.

The calculations, which were prepared by the Fair Share Housing Center, could still be disputed by local officials who say the development would overburden their municipalities. But the report marks the first time Fair Share has updated the need estimates since a March 10 ruling by the state Supreme Court, which stripped the controversial Council on Affordable Housing of its duties and turned them over to the lower courts.

“The Supreme Court directed the trial courts to determine what the obligations are, and this is our initial entry in the process,” said Kevin Walsh, associate director of the Fair Share Housing Center. “What we’ve done is engaged in the litigation contemplated by the courts.”

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April 22, 2015 by Phil Hall for NMP (National Mortgage Professional Magazine)

It would appear that proper nutrition, exercise and getting the right amount of sleep are not the only basic requirements for a healthy life. A new research brief from the non-profit National Housing Conference's Center for Housing Policy has determined that affordable housing is an important part in improving the health and well-being of both young and not-so-young.

“Housing has a significant influence on the health outcomes among lower-income and special-needs populations,” said Dr. Lisa Sturtevant, director of the Center for Housing Policy. “It is important for housing advocates and policymakers to use this information to help make the case for additional investments in affordable housing. Members of the housing and health communities must join together to utilize affordable housing as part of an overall strategy for improving and supporting the health of low-income individuals.”

The new report determined that the therapeutic benefits of affordable housing include financial considerations (less money spent on housing can be used for nutritious food and health care expenditures), emotional health (a decrease in stress tied to housing-related matters), physical health (especially if the affordable housing fits into the green building concept) and educational and professional self-improvement (especially if the affordable housing is located in what the survey dubs “neighborhoods of opportunity”).

The new report updates the Center’s 2011 research brief and can be found online here.

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Responding to an outpouring of complaints, Governor Christie’s administration has substantially revised a plan that sought to revamp housing and service programs for adults with developmental disabilities so that they are less isolated from the community.

Eliminated from the plan was a hotly contested proposal that would have required disabled adults to be working, volunteering or taking part in recreation activities outside their day program centers for 75 percent of the day.

Hundreds of people wrote or spoke out in opposition to that rule — calling it unrealistic, inflexible and costly — prompting the administration to soften the language to merely dictate that a “majority” of the participants’ time be spent in “integrated activities” that can take place inside or outside the center.

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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


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, | 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:

Read the plan here:
See companion documents here:

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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