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The affordable housing shortage profoundly affects more than 40% of the callers to our 2-1-1 helpline. They don’t earn enough; they work, many more than one job – to afford to live here. Rents and other costs are so high that one unexpected car repair bill, one unexpected medical bill (most have no health insurance) – and the rent check is delayed. Financial crisis follows so increasingly the supply of homes people can afford makes sense as a crisis prevention strategy.
That’s why Bergen County’s United Way is building affordable housing – though we prefer to call it Housing Works – hand in glove with municipal governments and with the support of communities. Our housing looks great, is well built, and is remarkably affordable.
We’ve formed the BCUW/Madeline Partnership to handle all aspects of development. The Madeline Corporation, led by second-generation housing developer, Shari DePalma, is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing affordable housing for seniors, families and individuals with special needs.
BCUW/Madeline has participated in the development of 100 units of affordable housing in ten separate projects located throughout Bergen County.
The impact of our housing starts is far reaching – the children succeeding in school without disruption, the seniors and disabled who are now living independently and, for low-income working families able to purchase an affordable unit, the creation of new taxpayers and homeowners with pride and an equity stake in the community. We help families achieve the stability that comes with having a place to call home.
Some Very Special Homes for Very Special People
We also recently completed an award winning project in Allendale – recipient of the Governor’s Excellence in Housing Award - for individuals with developmental disabilities ranging from Down Syndrome to Autism and a second project in Allendale – Crescent Commons will be completed in November.
Our experiences clearly demonstrate that with carefully tailored and individualized supports and services - all people can grow and develop in housing they control, be it a house, an apartment, or a condominium, no matter how significant their disabilities.
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We are ending homelessness in Bergen County.
Though we’ve operated in triage mode due to the enormity of the financial crisis faced by so many in our community, we have also managed to invest in innovative approaches that prevent crises from occurring in the first place.
Working in partnership with Bergen County Community Development and the Housing Authority of Bergen County, we have secured a total of $3.8 million in rental assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide permanent housing subsidies for homeless individuals and families, as well as the wrap around supportive services necessary to insure their health and well-being.
To date, 429 men, women and families have a place they can call home. All are still in their homes and the behaviors that caused and sustained homelessness – all moderated.
The pride and stability that comes with knowing you have a place of your own are the most effective treatments – and remarkably less expensive than the shelter system. It has also proven to be one of the most compassionate, empowering and cost effective ways to end homelessness.
We are preventing homelessness from happening in the first place.
To receive information about available housing opportunities contact Gina Plotino, Director of Communication at 201.291.4054 or via email.