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11/30/09

You are receiving Sharing Neighborhoods as a registered subscriber. Sharing Neighborhoods is a publication of New Jersey SHARES, on the web at www.NJSHARES.org.

executive Letter


Jim Jacob, President & CEO of NJ SHARES

After more than a decade of helping thousands of New Jersey households in crisis, NJ SHARES has seen, year after year, that need knows no season. Temporary financial problems can happen at any time, to the recently unemployed, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and families with children.

As part of our outreach, NJ SHARES has been seeking out individuals and families who have been personally helped by NJ SHARES’ energy assistance programs. By telling their stories, we hope to reinforce how crucial it is to provide help for those who fall through the cracks of other assistance programs. This month’s newsletter, below, includes a personal account of a Camden County father. It shows that even in households with two earners, an unfortunate sequence of events can lead to a suffocating payment crisis that is difficult to overcome without help.

Thanks to New Jersey’s energy safety net, help is available for households up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The Universal Service Fund (USF), available all year, helps those up to 175% of FPL. LIHEAP, available in the cold weather months, assists households up to 225% of FPL.

NJ SHARES offers assistance to households above 225% FPL and up to 400% FPL – who would otherwise have nowhere else to turn.

Because energy bill payment crises can also extend to water and telephone, NJ SHARES is now “making a splash” with its involvement with two major water companies, New Jersey American Water and United Water and we continue to “connect our communities” by administering Verizon’s Communication Lifeline and Link-up America programs providing discounted telephone service to low income and senior citizen households.

In October, NJ SHARES officially took over the administration of two programs for New Jersey American Water, “H2O To Help Others” and the “Low Income Payment Program” (LIPP). Since 2005, we have also been administering United Water Cares in New Jersey and in eight additional states. We are thrilled to be leveraging our energy expertise to help vulnerable households keep their water running – across New Jersey and in other states as well.

Winter is never an easy time for economically challenged families, and, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, NJ SHARES would like to thank all of our supporters in the state government, in private industry and our agency partners for their support of our friends and neighbors who are struggling to make ends meet.

Best regards,

Jim Jacob

What's New

A Camden County Father Tells His Story

My wife and I have always had steady employment – me, as an IT professional, and my wife managing a family business – so no one was more surprised than us when we realized we had fallen behind financially.

It happened gradually. Although we both work, we have four growing children, and our expenses were going up as the kids moved into their teen years. Last year, the trouble started when the prices of gas and food began rising, and we started using our credit card more. Although we’d refinanced our home to pay down the credit cards, after the holidays, the bills started coming in again. We began to miss household payments, sometimes paying our mortgage or utility bills late, and it snowballed from there.

What broke the bank was when our hot water heater died and had to be replaced. We were suddenly facing a $3000 PSE&G bill, which included the cost for the new water heater as well as the back payments we owed for gas and electric. The minimum payment was $800 just to keep our service going. There was no way we could afford that each month.

I read about NJ SHARES in our Town Council Newsletter. A woman from a state agency had come to one of our local council meetings and provided information about NJ SHARES and other assistance programs. I got in touch with the woman, and visited an agency office near my home, which took my application for assistance with the back payments on our energy bill.

I’ve never had to ask for help before, but when NJ SHARES granted my family $1000 in energy bill assistance, it helped get our debt down to a reasonable, and manageable level. We could start tackling the cost of the new water heater as well as other debts. I could finally sleep at night! I’m an active volunteer in my community, with a job that means a lot to me. I always think of myself as someone who helps others. When I found myself in a situation where I needed help, NJ SHARES was there, providing more than just a grant. NJ SHARES gave us hope, rehabilitated our finances and put us on a path to a more financially stable future.



NJ SHARES Night with the Devils – a Great Holiday Gift Idea

NJ SHARES makes your holiday shopping easy while warming your neighbor’s homes this season. As a NJ SHARES supporter, you have the opportunity to purchase NJ Devils tickets at a discount. The NJ Devils will share the warmth as they take the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, January 29, 2010 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The Devils will once again discount mezzanine/balcony tickets to $35.00 (a $56box office value) and lower level/corner/ends tickets to $65 (a $79 value). To purchase tickets call Tom Stocky at 973-757-6250.


PSE&G Residential Whole House Efficiency Program

The energy efficiency safety net has been expanded to 400% of FPL for residential PSE&G customers living in the following municipalities: Bayonne, Camden, Carteret, East Orange, Elizabeth, Gloucester City, Guttenberg, Hillside, Irvington, Jersey City, Kearny, Mount Holly, New Brunswick, Newark, North Bergen, Orange, Passaic, Paterson, Pemberton, Perth Amboy, Plainfield, Roselle, Trenton, Union City, and West New York.

Free energy audits and efficiency measures are now being offered to PSE&G residential customers whose gross monthly income is above 225% but below 400% the Federal Poverty Level.

Step 1: PSE&G will perform a FREE in-home energy audit (valued at $300). Step 2: Customers will also receive FREE in-home air-leakage testing and air sealing (valued at $1,000) to help prevent energy loss. PSE&G will also perform a free appliance safety test and install a free programmable thermostat ($100 value) if the customer does not have one. Step 3: Finally, PSE&G will arrange for a contractor to visit the home and provide a written estimate for additional recommended efficiency improvements.(If the home is landlord owned, the landlord must agree to participate and pay for the cost of the work.)

PSE&G will initially pay 100% of the cost to install the recommended Step 3 energy efficiency measures. Depending on household income, the customer will repay only 20%-50% of the cost of the work. This cost will appear on the customer’s PSE&G energy bill in 60 equal monthly payments or one lump sum. If the property is landlord-owned, the landlord will be billed.

Residential PSE&G Customers should call 1-800-854-4444 or visit pseg.com/wholehouse for more information on the program. Households under 225% FPL can contact 1-866-NJSMART or visit NJCleanEnergy.com to see what is available to them.


Independent Health Care Appeals Program Helps Citizens Denied Medical Coverage

The Independent Health Care Appeals Program (IHCAP), administered by the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance, is a review program used to assess whether or not a given insurance company has inappropriately denied medical coverage to patients. If an insurance carrier has denied coverage for a medically necessary treatment, the patient can submit an application for review through IHCAP to have the decision reviewed by a neutral party.

Though the program has been in existence for over 10 years, few people (patients and doctors alike) are aware of its benefits. Therefore, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande has introduced a bill which would raise program awareness by a number of means, including a 24-hour information hotline, notices posted in waiting rooms of hospitals and doctors’ offices, and training for hospital staffs so that they can advise patients and answer questions about the program. Assemblywoman Casagrande has spoken at the NJ SHARES Strategic Planning Board Meeting and is a great supporter of the NJ SHARES program.
For more information about IHCAP, please visit http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/ihcap.htm.

Events


Non-Profit Conference Set for Dec 9

Non-profit organizations make up a vital sector that improves life for everyone. During these turbulent times, it's more important than ever for non-profits to join together to examine emerging policy and economic trends, engage in learning and information-sharing opportunities, and plan for future strength. The NJ Non-Profit Conference, Ready Set Recover, will be held on December 9, 2009 at the Crowne Plaza Monroe in Jamesburg. For more information, visit www.njnonprofits.org.


National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference Set for June

The National Fuel Funds Network and the National Low Income Energy Consortium have announced a location and time for the annual National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference. The conference will be held June 14-16, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio in San Antonio, TX. The conference will provide sessions on fund raising and building the energy safety net, as well as workshops in such areas as energy availability and sustainability, weatherization and conservation, energy assistance and education, outreach and advocacy, Native American issues, and utility programs and services.


League of Municipalities

NJ SHARES was showcased at the 94th Annual League of Municipalities Conference on November 17th -19th. The event gave NJ SHARES the opportunity to converse with local leaders about new ideas, information and assistance programs to aid their communities. The NJ League of Municipalities is the largest in the nation, with the most educational sessions, exhibits and networking opportunities for municipal attendees. Some 19,000 local officials received a full update on key issues they will face in the coming year.


November Disabilities Fair Held in Cape May County on November 14

The Cape May County Disabilities Fair was held on November 14 in Avalon Community Center in Avalon, NJ. The fair provided NJ SHARES with valuable insights into current issues and concerns of those with disabilities. It was a great opportunity for us to share information with organizations that interact with the special needs population, to ensure they have resources to guide people who may be in need of energy assistance.


Caregivers’ Coalition Honors Unsung Heroes

On Nov. 3, NJ SHARES attended the Caregivers’ Recognition Breakfast hosted by the Caregivers’ Coalition of Morris County, which was held at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center in Whippany. The Caregivers’ Coalition, which is supported by United Way of Morris County, held the breakfast “to honor unpaid family caregivers and to raise awareness of the issues caregivers face,” according to the United Way of Morris County website. Keynote speaker Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen told the crowd that he would be working in Congress to obtain full funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006, which focuses on improving respite care for family caregivers. Many speakers shared their personal experiences with caregivers and the important services they provide.


PSE&G Hosts Energy Assistance Conferences

PSE&G held five energy conferences this Fall to reach out to local agencies and inform them of the resources and aid available to their clients who may be in need. Along with NJ SHARES, other organizations such as Comfort Partners and representatives from state assistance programs, such as LIHEAP, presented information to those in attendance to ensure that those who need help will be able to learn about the resources available to them.


New Jersey SHARES | www.njshares.org
1901 North Olden Avenue Extention Suite 1-A | Ewing, NJ 08618-2111
Phone: 609-883-1626 | Toll Free: 866-657-4273 | Fax: 609-883-6364 | Email info@njshares.org
Copyright 2013, NJ SHARES.
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New Jersey SHARES
1901 North Olden Avenue Extension, Suite 1A | Ewing, NJ 08618
Phone: 609-883-1626 | Toll Free: 866-657-4273 | Fax: 609-883-6364 | Email info@njshares.org
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