Program Aims to Create Affordable Housing for 600 People with Developmental Disabilities “The Christie Administration recognizes that the housing needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their caregivers are enormous. As part of this initiative, the Department of Community Affairs will provide expertise and funding to create appropriate community-based housing so more people can be served,” said DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa. “The DCA will also identify a pool of the most dynamic, experienced and reliable producers of homes for people with developmental disabilities in order to expedite the process of moving people out of institutions and into community settings.”
Under the Special Needs Housing Partnership, DCA and DHS will seek to purchase three- or four-bedroom ranch style homes and two-bedroom condominiums and apartments to create supported-living arrangements for a minimum of 100 people by December 31, 2011, an additional 200 people by June 30, 2012; and 300 more people by June 30, 2013. The goal is to move people who are able from developmental centers to the community; who are on the DHS waiting list, or who require emergency community residential placements into appropriate housing faster than the State’s current process. Referrals to the homes will not exclusively come from DHS. In fact, service providers in the community can also refer their clients to the housing.
“The Partnership represents this Administration’s commitment to empowering individuals with developmental disabilities by providing community-living options that support and accommodate their needs,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “We’re incredibly proud to advance an initiative that brings promise to individuals and families for whom housing is such a critical need.”
The DCA and DHS will soon issue a Request for Qualifications to seek housing developers/service providers with the capacity and technical expertise to produce housing units for individuals with developmental disabilities. The information received in response to the RFQ, which must be submitted by June 15, will be used to create a pool of organizations that have demonstrated success in developing affordable housing in general and housing for disability communities in particular. Interested municipalities can access the pool of organizations to find qualified developers doing business in their area. Also, the State will provide qualified developers with a list of interested municipalities in their business territory in order to facilitate the development of housing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
Developers/service providers that are selected to participate in the program will be able to submit project development plans to the DCA and DHS. Organizations whose plans best meet the program’s objectives can expect to receive sufficient funding to purchase and rehabilitate housing units. A maximum price of $125,000 per bed will be allowed for purchase and necessary rehabilitation under this initiative.
The Special Needs Housing Partnership supports New Jersey’s obligations under the landmark 1999 Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. in which the Court ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects a person with a disability from being unnecessarily institutionalized. The decision favored unrestricted, but supported, community placements for individuals with disabilities.