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3/23/09 Volume 5, Issue 3

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.

What's New


NJ SHARES Opens New DCA Call Center

In March, NJ SHARES opened a new Call Center to provide information on a variety of assistance programs for low income people, as well as individuals and families in the midst of a temporary financial crisis. The new Call Center, which NJ SHARES is operating on behalf of the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA), kicked off with staff who have been specially trained to offer a broad array of program information to households that are struggling to pay their utility bills.

The NJ SHARES DCA Call Center will provide information about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), home weatherization and the Universal Service Program for gas and electric assistance. Callers who do not qualify for these programs will be referred to 866-NJSHARES.

Partner Agencies Help NJ SHARES Manage Unprecedented Need

As the winter heating season comes to a close and programs such as LIHEAP close for the year NJ SHARES would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our agency partners for their time, dedication and patience in helping us provide energy assistance during an unprecedented period of economic crisis for many New Jersey residents.

A financial crisis can happen to anyone – regardless of age or income – and with job losses mounting throughout the state, many households have struggled to pay their heating and electricity bills. This winter season, NJ SHARES faced the most intense demand for energy assistance in our 11-year history. Since receiving $10 million from the State on Jan. 12, NJ SHARES has been obligating $1 million per week to thousands of individuals and families in crisis; as of this writing, we have obligated all of the energy assistance funds made available by the state.

NJ SHARES, supported by its partner agencies, provides the only safety net for the working poor, middle and fixed-income households who have difficulty paying their utility bills, but who do not fall within the Federal and State income limits.

NJ SHARES could not have reached the thousands of people in crisis without the dedication of our agency partners. From all of us, and our clients, thank you for your time and efforts to advocate for our neighbors in need.

LIHEAP Application Deadline is April 30

This year, April 30 is the LIHEAP application deadline. Agencies should refer to the USF income chart, which is 175% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. Clients over 175% FPL and below 400% FPL can apply for NJ SHARES.
Events


PSE&G

PSE&G Energy Assistance Workshops

The need for energy assistance has never been greater, and PSE&G will hold its 2009 Energy Assistance Workshops to provide information and resources to its social service partners in the community.

NJ SHARES is presenting information on energy assistance for low and moderate income families, options for clients still struggling to pay winter heating bills, and help in understanding who qualifies and how to apply for Emergency LIHEAP, USF, NJ SHARES.

NJ SHARES Agency Advisory Committee

On April 8, NJ SHARES will hold its first meeting of the Agency Advisory Committee. The Committee was formed to share the agency perspective with the NJS Board of Directors.
Letter from the Executive Director


Jim Jacob

The last few months have been tumultuous for the New Jersey economy and for many households throughout the state. A challenging economic climate has left many residents in danger of gas or electric shutoff or termination – or, in the case of oil or propane customers, with no ability to purchase fuel to heat their homes.

The good news is that the State of New Jersey has recognized the tremendous need: In December, Governor John Corzine signed an Economic Recovery bill which allocated $10 million for NJ SHARES’ energy assistance programs. This funding has allowed NJ SHARES and its agency partners to help over thousands of households since January.

Another exciting milestone this year is the opening of the NJ SHARES Department of Community Affairs Call Center. For the first time, people who are struggling to pay their utility bills will have one place to call where they can get information a variety of programs in the State. The new Call Center will provide comprehensive information to ensure that households do not fall through the cracks: With our help, individuals and families with financial difficulties can quickly find the utility assistance program appropriate to their circumstances. For instance, clients who don’t qualify for LIHEAP, home weatherization and the Universal Service Program will be able to easily contact NJ SHARES for program information.

NJ SHARES, meanwhile, continues to provide much-needed telephone and water utility assistance through its administration of the Verizon Communications Lifeline Program for New Jersey and the multi-state United Water Program.

The State funding NJ SHARES has received this year has been extremely valuable, but the need is great. In 2008, NJ SHARES provided assistance to 12,000 households, but had to turn away 15,000 – and in effect, the number of households who needed assistance, and did not get it, was much higher. This year, the need will also far outstrip our ability to respond: We will likely turn away thousands of applicants before the year is out due to insufficient funding.

Because of the current economic difficulties, more people are looking for help, who have never before sought out financial assistance. To address new and existing customers in crisis, NJ SHARES must achieve sustainable funding. By partnering with the state legislature, utility companies, our social service agencies, private corporations and our friends and neighbors, we know we can meet that goal.

Jim Jacob
Executive Director
NJ SHARES



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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