For Immediate Release: For Further Information:
January 14, 2011 (609) 292-6055
Press Office

Christie Administration Secures Federal Funding to Help People with Disabilities Move from Institutions to Independence

Nearly $1 Million in Funds to Provide Disabled with Rental Assistance and Supportive Services

TRENTON, NJ – The Christie Administration today announced that New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has received $936,420 in federal funding to help non-elderly individuals with disabilities who are currently living in institutional settings move to independent living. As the state's public housing authority, the DCA will administer the funding and work with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to identify 100 eligible individuals who could benefit from the rental assistance vouchers.

"Governor Christie is committed to helping integrate people with special needs into community life as much as possible. This federal funding will help the state accomplish this worthwhile goal," said DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa. "The Department of Community Affairs is eager to begin working with our colleagues at the state human services and health agencies to get eligible New Jerseyans the housing, health and social support they need to live independently."

DHS intends to utilize the rental assistance vouchers it receives in its Divisions of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health & Addiction Services to advance efforts to move individuals who are able from institutions to community settings. DHSS plans to use the funding to help people move out of nursing homes. The two departments already are working collaboratively to implement Money Follows the Person, a federal grant program that helps provide services to people moving from institutions to the community.

"The Department of Human Services is delighted that this multi-state agency collaboration will result in additional community placement opportunities for some of our consumers with disabilities," said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. "It is so important to have a place to call home."

Said DHSS Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh: "Housing is a big obstacle for people with disabilities who want to live independently in the community after living in a nursing home for any length of time. I see this funding as welcome news for those residents in our nursing homes who are able to make the move to community living, but need some financial assistance to make their dreams a reality."

New Jersey was one of 15 states to receive a portion of the $7.5 million funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rental Assistance for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities Program. As part of the initiative, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will also provide supportive services such as in-home nursing and personal care services to help participants successfully live in the community.

The funding will support 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.