“Partnerships That (Could) Make A Difference: Meaningful Reconstruction”
“All the while, as we were continuing to boost funding for police and give them more authority, we were simultaneously slashing spending on key social services. That meant that in many communities, the police were the only ones left to handle almost any issue that people had, which is a real problem … we are asking police to do far too much.” –John Oliver, Last Week Tonight
“We have confused the idea that to achieve safety, you put more cops on the street instead of understanding to achieve safe and healthy communities, you put more resources into the public education system of those communities, into affordable housing, into home ownership, into access to capital for small businesses, access to health care regardless of how much money people have. That’s how you achieve safe and healthy communities.” -Senator Kamala Harris
We live in an increasingly polarized world where the integration of nuance is considered an unaffordable luxury; opinion is promulgated as absolute truth, and "we" becomes "them and us." I've written about this before, but these days, more than any time I recall since the late '60s, we teeter on the precipice. The modern parlance for such moments is "inflection point," and we, for sure, have arrived at one.
Our Human Services Department can often be a bridge between seemingly distant shores. In our mission statement, we are charged with "improving the lives of Somerset County residents by promoting social, emotional, physical and mental well-being and safety of residents and communities." This, admittedly, is a tall order, and one we take very seriously. Fulfilling our mission sometimes means that we need to function as a facilitator, broker, advocate, and at other times as a consensus builder. We, perhaps, are now faced with one of the most difficult bridges to build- one that connects the best aspirations and actions of law enforcement and those who have been the unfortunate recipients of the worst failures of our unarguably skewed "justice system." Systemic racism and its unspoken enabling of the application of excessive force are real and powerful; on the other hand, the genuine desire of many in law enforcement to move beyond this legacy and to truly "protect and serve" all citizens should not be ignored. In Somerset County, Human Services has a responsibility to try to help reconcile these opposing forces in a way that fits our mission.
My own experience is a constant reminder of the importance of continued dialogue in trying to mobilize system change. County Prosecutor Michael Robertson and I often comment on our ability to find common ground and to work together for the greater good. We don't agree on every issue, have (and will have) our share of healthy debate, but we communicate with each other regularly, and both fully accept the idea that neither of us can truly affect community change without the commitment and investment of the other. Head of the County's Department of Health and Public Safety (and former Chief of Police for Warren) Bill Stahl and I have a similar relational dynamic and find that our discussions provide mutual perspectives that we might not have otherwise considered. We have recently been in discussion regarding developing a pilot program with one or two select municipalities that would link municipal police with a dedicated human service professional who would work on case resolution, communication, and service linkage while promoting the kind of dialogue I've referenced above. Stay tuned for more on this over the next couple of months.
It is difficult, at least for me, to always know when dialogue has outlived its purpose with respect to change. There are times, after all, where motivations and philosophies are clear, bias and wildly non-factual positions are articulated, and whatever dialogue there has been (or might yet be) remains unproductive. In such cases, it is likely simply time to "move on" and proceed without consensus. However, I often find that it is easier (if not wiser) to "assume" the rigidity of another's position without genuinely exploring it. I try to assume that less than I did years ago.
Of course, at the end of the day, what really matters is change that results in a quality of life improvement for those who have been on the short end of the opportunity and growth stick and who have plenty of justification for being mistrustful of yet another promise of a "partnership." And yet…we have to try, while keeping healthy skepticism alive. To that end, as my mother used to say (I'm not sure from whom she stole the quote), " keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out."
Have suggestions for future content? Submit ideas to Evelyn Velez at email@example.com. All suggestions will be taken into consideration, but are subject to editorial discretion
To view past publications of the Somerset County Department of Human Services Newsletter visit the webpage here.
August is National Black Business Month, and we recognize the Black-owned businesses across the country and in Somerset County.
Submitted by: Evelyn Velez, Human Services Specialist
Historian John William Templeton and engineer Frederick E. Jordan Sr founded National Black Business Month in August 2004 to “drive the policy agenda affecting the 2.6 million African-American businesses.“ Black business owners account for about 10 percent of U.S. businesses and about 30 percent of all minority-owned businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that amounts to approximately two million companies owned by African Americans. Nearly 40 percent of black-owned businesses are in health care and social assistance, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services. Other categories include advertising firms, auto dealerships, consulting services, restaurants, barbershops, beauty salons, and more. Among cities, New York has the most black-owned businesses in the U.S. followed by Atlanta. The highest ratio of black-owned businesses is in Washington, DC where 28% of all businesses are black-owned. The growth of black-owned franchise businesses has been explosive. In 2012 over 30% of franchise businesses were black-owned, up from about 20% five years previous.
HOW TO OBSERVE:
Support and encourage African American-owned businesses in your community. Learn more about business opportunities for the African American community. Use #NationalBlackBusinessMonth in social media correspondence.
National Minority Health Awareness Month
Submitted by: Naomi Persaud, LCSW, Clinical Services Director, Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center
Mental health is defined as emotional, psychological, and social well-being. This month, we will place emphasis on promoting mental health amidst minority populations. In doing so, our society must improve insight, education, and understanding that mental health is generally not identified, acknowledged, deficient or absent in many minority communities.
It is common among minorities to lack the proper knowledge of what mental health is, establish acceptance, and know how to identify and seek the proper services for treatment. It is equally important to mention that bias, cultural influence, lack of trust and past trauma play a large role in allowing this population to exhibit vulnerability and the capacity to stop the constant mindset of always being in “survival mode”. It is beneficial to comprehend that any suggestion of mental illness can be seen as a sign of weakness, demonic, or mostly insignificant.
There are many adversities to mental health among minority and marginalized populations. Multifaceted disparities allow for the predisposition of minorities to manifest and suffer in various areas of mental illness. It is understood that mental illness does not discriminate, however socioeconomic status, misinformation, lack of financial means, access to health care, co-occurring disorders, discrimination and cultural influences, offer several barriers. As evident in today’s world, attention to this matter is vital. In piloting and ensuring the continued process to improve minority awareness and engagement, we must continue to the promotion of integrated health, improve access to mental health treatment and services, as well as dismantling associated stigma.
We can all help. A widespread, collaborative effort by providing cultural competence, continuing education for healthcare workers and improvements to available resources is promising. The more mental health is talked about, its relatedness to all races and walks of life, can help to dispel myths, and decrease cyclic trends associated with mental illness. Consequently, this may result in the advancement and treatment for minority communities.
Provider Relief Fund
Application Deadline Extended: August 3, 2020
The Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal is open to eligible Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers. The portal allows providers to apply for payments made for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. Eligible providers may receive a reimbursement up to 2% of their annual reported patient revenue. Attend next week’s final Technical Assistance Webinar on July 27, 2020 at 3:00pm ET. Register Here.
Resources and Application Link
- Before applying, read the Portal Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions
- Register or log in to watch a previous Technical Assistance webcast
- Read the Medicaid and CHIP Provider Distribution Fact Sheet
- Contact the Provider Support Line at (866) 569-3522
"What do you wish the American people better understood about military service or military families?"
Submitted by: Service Member Ryan Vance, Army National Guard
Everyone calls us heroes. Everyone watches movies about us, they see the shows or they read the books. We're on the news and we're a fixture at every NFL game. We are often depicted either fighting a battle, triumphantly charging the hill, or mourning the loss of a brother. "The Ultimate Sacrifice," is repeated so often that people implicitly know what it means and we are constantly thanked for risking our lives to defend others freedom. "How do you do it?" They ask. "I could never do what you do." "I'd be too scared." They imagine constant firefights and a never-ending labyrinth of road side bombs. Ironically, these things don't scare most of us. They're risks of the job, but we train for them. We worry about what we can control and prepare for all possibilities . A bigger problem is what we can't control; time.
On screen, the reunions are always heartfelt with happy tears and big hugs. The months or sometimes years that you and your spouse have been physically apart, are glossed over. The movies cover the soldiers in battle - the cameras aren't rolling at home when life is going on without us. The cameras and by extension the people outside of the military, don't see the birthday parties, holidays or anniversaries where part of the family is missing. They don't see the often complex and difficult reintegration; trying to find your place in a family that has been functioning completely without you for a year or more. Nobody sees us sitting outside our tent in some war-torn country, struggling to attain a clear enough phone connection to apologize to our spouses for missing another anniversary.
To most people, missing your child's birth is unthinkable. To us, it's part of the job. While most people can't fathom how they'd handle the stress of a firefight, I wonder how my fellow soldiers deal with leaving a new born and coming home to a child that talks. One soldier told me his worst fear on his second deployment was that when he came home, his daughter might not remember him. That is far scarier than the prospect of combat.
War and fighting are just part of our jobs. For the most part, it doesn't bother us because we practice, study and perfect it. We know how it works, we know how to react to a threat and how to create one. These are all day to day functions of a modern military. Still, we cannot train for lost time. Every soldier, sailor, marine and airman loses time - regardless of how much combat he or she personally sees. Every member of the armed forces has given up, at a minimum, months and more commonly years with their loved ones. We cannot make more time and we cannot recover it once it's been lost. This is the sacrifice we all make. This is what I wish more people thought of when they ask, "How do you do it?"
It’s About Time
Submitted by: Kimberly Cowart, Director, Community Development
After a four-month hiatus, the Somerset County Continuum of Care Committee had its first virtual meeting on July 21st. Though the committee only meets every other month, the last time we met was on March 12, just before the pandemic exploded, and as we all know, life is very different now. In addition to the realities and challenges that are a result of COVID-19, there is also the implosion that we are witnessing as communities across America express their anger and frustration about police brutality toward people of color and the impact of hundreds of years of systemic racism. There is a lot going on.
Because the Committee wants to be relevant and to take on issues that affect the residents of Somerset County, the Committee Chair, Co-Chair and I made a decision that in lieu of a presentation, we would use this meeting as a forum for member organizations to share how they are dealing with staff and client feelings about race and racism. Unchartered waters for sure- but that’s where the treasure is buried- so we decided to dive right in!
I have never been part of a Committee discussion about race and racism and if I am honest, I have to admit that this is an uncomfortable topic for me as well. As a woman of color, I have been acknowledging and dealing with the effects of racism in America for my entire life. It is something that I talk about with other people of color quite frequently; we live with it every day and thankfully, there are people in my life that I can turn to for understanding and support. However, I have never participated in, much less facilitated, a discussion in an open public forum where I have the complex role of being a leader, an advocate and a survivor.
In preparation for the meeting, I sent out a very short list of questions for everyone to consider, with the hope that giving people lead time would ensure a more robust conversation. The questions were: (1) Has the focus on systemic racism and police brutality toward people of color had an impact on the clients you serve or the staff that work at your agency? How would you describe that impact? (2) How has your agency responded? (3) What can we as a committee do to provide support, make relevant resources available and hold ourselves accountable for taking initiative to create change?
I have to be honest and say that we got off to a slow start and that there were lots of awkward pauses, though they do not seem so awkward to me anymore. This meeting taught me to comfortably sit with silence because the absence of words says something too, to count to 10 and if no one says anything else, to move on to the next topic. In the end, I do think that we had a productive conversation. When there was discussion, people said a lot. One of the members shared their belief that current events related to race and racism do in fact affect everyone and everything, and that correcting four hundred years of institutionalized oppression and discrimination is indeed a long game. We also heard from Committee members who shared how they are using this opportunity to teach their children to channel their anger into action in their personal and professional lives. We were encouraged to hear that there is significant interest in the work to make things better, demonstrated by the fact the July Human Services Academy offering, Dismantling the Racism Machine, had to close registration after 100 people signed up for the workshop. We heard about how Legal Services of Northwest Jersey is working with its employees to issue a Joint Message that reaffirms their personal and professional commitment to fighting racial injustice.
We also found out that other CoC Committees in NJ are looking at their homeless data to see whether there are racial disparities and if so, to begin identifying solutions to remove barriers that make it harder for people of color to access services and housing. Community Development staff have already reached out to those communities for guidance about how we can do that here. We learned that the national unemployment rate for Blacks, Latinos and Asians is higher than the unemployment rate for the nation at large and that while the rate for those races is slightly lower in Somerset and Hunterdon counties, it is still higher than the unemployment rate for whites in both counties. There is work for everyone that wants to contribute.In the end, the Committee decided to make Reflections on Racism a permanent item on the agenda because we agreed that we cannot leave things the way they are. My intent for this initiative is to first and foremost normalize discussion about the topic of racism among members of the CoC Committee and at our meetings. I also want to use this as an opportunity to maintain awareness and to create a forum that will allow Committee members to provide tools, resources and support to their peers and colleagues. I share all of this with you to let you know that your County government and the non-profit community are doing what we can. I invite you to join us. I also want you to know that talking about race is not as scary as you think it might be. We survived the conversation and I know that you can successfully take this on too. If you have questions or want support as you begin thinking about ways to talk about or address racism, you can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling me at 908-541-5756.
Here in the Department of Human Services, we would love to welcome the new co chairs, vice chair and secretary of the Somerset County Youth Council! The Youth Council was established to promote leadership within the youth of Somerset County and is open for students from 7th to 11th grade. We are fully confident that, with the new leadership and guidance from Psian Aviles-Quinones (Human Services Coordinator), there will come great changes for the Youth Council. Take the time to read each of their short bios below.
For more information on the Youth Council, contact Psian Aviles-Quinones at email@example.com or at 908-704-6307.
Again, congratulations on your new roles!
CO CHAIR: Hello! My name is Grace! I’m going to be a junior this upcoming school year at Somerville High School. I live in Branchburg, New Jersey and live with my parents, as well as my twelve year old sister. I have been a part of the Somerset County Youth Council since eighth grade and am grateful to have had the opportunities to collaborate with a diverse group of Somerset County peers to volunteer in the community, lead others in meaningful change, and advocate for issues important to our age group. As we are all from different school communities within the county, I have been enriched through working alongside a great group of friends. I enjoy being a part of the council because it makes me feel I’m contributing to something to make my community stronger, brighter, and even more empowered. In my free time, you can find me spending time with my friends, running, catching a musical, or chasing around my three adopted dogs. I’m excited to be one of the new co-chairs this upcoming school year and look forward to continuing our incredible work!
CO CHAIR: Hi, I’m Riley! My life changed three years ago when I joined Youth Council and found a passion for volunteering and supporting youth run community events. Being able to contribute to the community and being a part of something greater than myself has enriched my life through interacting with and learning from people within the community. I would have never thought it would lead me to being the new co-chair, but I’m excited to work alongside the council and continue on this exciting journey. I’m entering my junior year at Somerset County Vo-Tech and participate in the Graphics Communication program and am a member of the varsity soccer team. In my free time, I enjoy baking, party planning, and crafting with my sister and brother.
VICE CHAIR: My name is Aaron, and I am the Vice Chair of the Youth Council. I am a rising senior at Princeton Day School, and I love STEM, photography, tennis, and spending time outside. I joined the Youth Council because I wanted to make a tangible change in my community—the strongest, most visible attribute of the Youth Council.
SECRETARY: Hello! I’m Ellie and I am a junior at Watchung Hills Regional High School. I am from Watchung, New Jersey and joined Somerset County Youth Council in the fall of 2019. Ever since I became a part of the Youth Council, I have not stopped looking for ways to help better Somerset County’s community. By volunteering, educating, and getting to know the people around us, we have made our county a better place. This year I was elected as the Youth Council Secretary which means that I help coordinate and track what happens in our meetings along with the amazing help of our three other Youth Council officers. In my free time I like to rock climb, hang out with friends, and play with my dog. I look forward to the new year and cannot wait to continue being in Somerset County Youth Council!
Hello everyone! My name is Psian I. Avilés-Quiñones, and I am the new Human Services Coordinator in the Office of Operations and Planning, Department of Human Services. My responsibilities in this role are to conduct a county wide needs assessment by partnering with organizations such as Rutgers University, NJ Department of Children and Families, key stakeholders and community members. I am also the advisor for the Somerset County Youth Council and seek to empower the youth to become young leaders and catalysts of change in their communities and the in world. Lastly, every month I coordinate the Human Services Advisory Council (HSAC) meetings for our county which provides me with the opportunity to work with some exquisite and invested people.
The activities that I most enjoy are traveling, volunteering, meditating, cooking and learning. I love trying new recipes, finding unique and tasty spices and baking. Some of the countries I’ve traveled to are Panama, Thailand, Turkey, Spain, Vietnam and The Bahamas. My favorite cities are New Orleans because of the food scene and the awe inspiring jazz and Istanbul for its rich history,food and beautiful culture. I love painting and handbuilding with clay and I draw my inspiration from painters such as Frida Kahlo and love the work of Judy Chicago and Barbara Kruger. My goal is to continue travelling the world, growing as a social worker and serving people and communities in need, welcoming change and growth every step of the way.
Four Important Vaccines Every Senior Should Know About
Submitted by: Katie Brach, Wellness and Care Coordinator, Office of Aging and Disability
Getting vaccinated is an important part of disease prevention as we age. According to the US Census Bureau, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 includes provisions that added certain preventive services to Medicare, including immunizations.
Healthy People 2020 is the federal government's prevention agenda for building a healthier nation. Healthy People 2020 goals for immunization and infectious diseases are rooted in evidence-based clinical and community activities and services for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. Objectives for 2020 reflect a more mobile society and the fact that diseases do not stop at geographical borders. Awareness of disease and completing prevention and treatment courses remain essential components for reducing infectious disease transmission.
As we get older, our immune systems tend to weaken over time, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is important that you speak with your doctor about receiving your seasonal Flu vaccine, Shingles vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine and Hepatitis B vaccine.
Seasonal Flu Vaccine - The flu—or influenza—is a contagious respiratory illness that can be severe and life-threatening. Older adults, even if you are healthy, are at higher risk when it comes to the flu. Most older Americans also have chronic diseases which make them more vulnerable to comorbidities caused by the flu. Medicare part B covers the cost in full.
Shingles Vaccine – Protects against shingles and the complications from the disease. The CDC recommends two doses of shingles vaccine (Shingrix) for all healthy adults starting at age 50. You can receive a one dose vaccine after the age of 60. There is a cost share associated with this vaccine.
Pneumococcal Vaccine – Protects against pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal vaccination is recommended for all adults over 65 years old, and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions. Medicare part B covers this vaccine cost in full.
Hepatitis B Vaccine - Hepatitis B is a contagious virus that infects the liver. The liver and its function change as you age, making Hepatitis B more prevalent among older adults. Medicare part B will cover the cost of the vaccine in full.
According to the CDC there are more than 135 COVID-19 vaccines in development, with 16 of them in human trial phases. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed. Older Americans should continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash their hands to prevent the spread of illness.
Source: Healthy People 2020, Centers for Disease Control, US Census Bureau
Hurricane Preparedness Checklist for Seniors
Submitted by: Andrew Rees MSW, Information Specialist, Somerset County Office on Aging & Disability Services
The hurricane season begins June 1st through November 30th. In June there were already two hurricanes and one tropical depression. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an active 2020 hurricane season.
Hurricane survival is based on being prepared for the worst. It is very important to develop an emergency preparedness checklist to keep you and your loved ones safe during a potential disaster. First, pack a go bag or emergency kit and make sure to keep it in the same location so that you can grab it in a moment's notice. Use a backpack or small suitcase, it is helpful to have wheels on the bags for easy transport. This is especially important for seniors who cannot lift heavy bags.
The National Hurricane Center along with the American Red Cross developed the following checklist for hurricane preparedness:
- One gallon of water per person for three days.
- Non-perishable food enough for three days. Include canned foods,
- A multipurpose tool such as a Swiss army knife and a can opener.
- Battery powered radio
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications, enough for three days
- Sanitary or personal hygiene products
- Copies of personal documents such as:
- Medication list
- Important medical information
- Proof of address
- Deed /or lease to home
- Social security card
- Birth certificate
- Insurance policies
- Cell phone and charger
- Family emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Baby supplies if your grandchildren are with you. This should include; bottles, formula, baby food, diapers.
- Pet supplies, leashes, collar with ID, food carrier, bowl, food
- Tools and supplies for securing the home
- Extra keys for your home and car
- Extra clothing, hat, waterproof shoes
- Insect repellent and sunscreen
It is important to understand that hurricane preparedness in 2020 is much different than in years past. Not only are you planning to maintain your safety from a natural disaster, but also needing to keep yourself safe from COVID-19 exposure. In addition to the list above, to keep yourself safe ensure your emergency kit includes:
- Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Bar or liquid soap
- Disinfectant wipes (if available)
- Two cloth face coverings (per person). Face covers should not be used by children under the age of 2. They also should not be used by people having trouble breathing, or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without assistance
You may not be able to stop a hurricane or the COVID-19 pandemic yourself, but you can take steps to keep yourself and your family safe.
NATIONAL HONOR: DR. ANWAR GHALI AGAIN NAMED TO DISTINGUISHED BOARD OF EXAMINERS FOR THE MALCOLM BALDRIGE NATIONAL QUALITY AWARD
By: Johanna Moore, Human Services Planning Administrator
The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has named our very own Dr. Anwar Ghali, Medical Director at Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center, to the Board of Examiners for the 2020 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The Baldrige Award is the nation's highest honor for organizational innovation and performance excellence, and this is the 14th consecutive year Dr. Ghali has been selected to serve.
What does an Examiner do?
Appointed by the NIST Director, examiners are responsible for reviewing and evaluating applications submitted for the Baldrige Award, as well as other assessment-related tasks. The examiner board is composed of more than 325 leading experts competitively selected from industry, professional, trade, education, healthcare and nonprofit (including government) organizations from across the United States.
Commitment to Excellence
While he now serves as the Medical Director at Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center in Bridgewater, Dr. Ghali has a distinguished career focused on treating adults including older adults performing psychiatric evaluation and medication management. Dr. Ghali’s other appointments include serving as the Clinical Director of Psychiatry at Christian Health Care Center and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Chairman of Psychiatry at Trinitas Regional Medical Centers and Acting Chair of Psychiatry at Seton Hall University School of Health Sciences. Dr. Ghali is a board certified psychiatrist and holds a Master’s degree of Public Administration (MPA) in Health Sciences Management. If that is not enough to impress you, Dr. Ghali is a Joint Commission Surveyor, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, President-elect, Essex County Medical Society and past President, New Jersey Psychiatric Association.
Those selected, including Dr. Ghali, meet the highest standards of qualification and peer recognition, demonstrating competencies related to customer focus, communication, ethics, action orientation, team building and analytical skills. All members of the board must take part in a nationally ranked leadership development course based on the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and the scoring/evaluation processes for the Baldrige Award.
Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987. Awards may be given annually to organizations in each of six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, education, healthcare and nonprofit. The Award promotes innovation and excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies.
Congratulations on your appointment to the board clearly demonstrating your continued commitment to excellence, Dr. Anwar Ghali!
SOMERSET COUNTY LAUNCHES EMERGENCY RENTAL RELIEF PROGRAM!
Submitted by: Kim Cowart, Director, Community Development
What is NJ’s Very Low/Low/Moderate Income Program?
Submitted by: Susie Suter, Assistant Director, Central Jersey Housing Resource Center
Central Jersey Housing Resource Center (CJHRC) has been providing information and resources to individuals and households for more than 30 years. Due to CJHRC’s expertise in understanding the rules and restrictions on affordable housing, they were approved in 1995 by the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to serve towns as their Administrative Agent (AA). CJHRC knows finding an apartment or sale/resale unit in the program can be confusing, so they have compiled frequently asked questions and provided answers. Below are a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the program. To view the full list of questions, please visit https://cjhrc.org/images/Very_Low_Low_Moderate_Income_Housing_Program_FAQs.pdf.
What is the State of NJ Very Low, Low & Moderate Income Program?
The NJ Supreme court established a constitutional obligation requiring all 566 municipalities in NJ to create realistic opportunities for the provision of very low, low and moderate income housing. Some towns are currently exempt from building new housing if there is existing housing stock that meets the obligations. A designated municipal liaison or housing officer in the municipality keeps track of the units and who can direct you to the Administrative Agent (AA) who processes the pre-applications/applications, ensures the rules are being followed, handles the random selection, etc.
What is an Administrative Agent?
An Administrative Agent is hired by a town and is responsible to oversee and administer all or some of their affordable units. This may also include overseeing their down payment assistance/closing cost or rehab assistance program.
Does every borough, township or municipality have an affordable housing program?
No. Some boroughs, townships or municipalities are exempt However, every ten years the plans are reviewed and sometimes a municipality that was exempt the first 20 years of a program may now need to build units and vice versa.
How can I find applications or opportunities for the State of NJ Very Low, Low & Moderate Income Program?
Finding how to apply can sometimes be confusing and slightly difficult. There is NOT one application per town, county or state. Each property that offers low/moderate income units can have a separate application or pre-application.
CJHRC’s HUD Housing Counselors can also help you or direct you to housing options in the program.
Where can I find resources to locate affordable housing in New Jersey?
- The Housing Affordability Service (HAS) is a State agency that contracts with NJ municipalities to administer the sale and re-sale of affordable units. HAS can be reached at (609) 278-7579 or (609) 278-8841.
- New Jersey's Housing Resource Center (njhrc.gov) is an online searchable listing service for all types of affordable housing in New Jersey. If you do not have access to the internet, call 211 for assistance.
What is a random selection?
Whenever there are more certified households than available affordable units, a “Random selection process” (lottery) is required in this program. No preference is given to one applicant over another except for purposes of matching household income and size with an appropriately priced and sized affordable unit (e.g., by lottery
CJHRC’s offices are currently closed to the public; however, we are still working with clients who are seeking a very low, low or /moderate income rental or resale unity. All of our services are FREE, and we can be reached at 908-446-0036 or view documents on our website at www.cjhrc.org and click on Housing Resources
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County
Somerset County 4-H
Through online clubs, webinars, social media challenges, and more - Somerset County 4-H has so much to offer for youth in our community:
Family and Community Health Sciences
Health and nutrition are universal topics that are great for online learning! With webinars, Live cooking sessions, monthly newsletters, and fact-based publications - Family & Community Health Science is prepared to deliver quality, educational content online:
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Now is a great time to get involved with your local land through webinars focused on protecting the environment and learning how to grow your own community garden for your community: