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3/31/2011

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

Majority of Americans Reject Cut to LIHEAP

This month, the Wall Street Journal/NBC released a poll on whether Americans support or reject proposed cuts to various federal programs. When asked if they would cut “heating assistance to low-income families” to help reduce the current federal budget deficit, a majority (65 percent) of respondents indicated that a cut to LIHEAP is “unacceptable”.

This poll confirms that while tough decisions need to be made to help us reduce our nation's overall debt, Americans understand that LIHEAP is an essential program that is meeting the basic needs of our most vulnerable population. Cuts to the program will force our nation’s low-income families, seniors, and disabled to make difficult choices between heating or cooling their homes or paying for other necessities, such as food and medicines.

Poverty Gripping New Jersey

In New Jersey, there are more people living in or on the edges of poverty than in the combined total populations of Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburg, according to the Legal Services of New Jersey’s Poverty Research Institute’s report, released on Tuesday March 22, 2011 at the New Jersey State Museum Auditorium in Trenton, NJ.

The report, titled Poverty Benchmarks 2011: Assessing New Jersey’s Progress Combating Poverty, paints a grim picture of poverty’s growing grip in New Jersey. “In the wake of the Great Recession, New Jersey poverty is markedly worse by every measure. For the sake of the two million people affected, society and its government simply must provide more help, care and protection," said Melville D. Miller Jr., president of Legal Services. To read the full report, visit: http://www.lsnj.org/PDFs/budget/Benchmarks2011.pdf

Non-Profits See Climbing Demand and Tight Funding Streams

The Center for Non-Profits released results for their annual New Jersey Non-Profits 2011: Trends and Outlook Survey. “Rising demand and tight funding are threatening non-profits’ ability to provide essential programs and services at a time when government and individuals are turning to them more than ever,” commented Linda M. Czipo, executive director of the Center. “Since non-profits also employ approximately 7% of the state’s work force, this is cause for concern economically as well as socially.” The survey provides further evidence of the toll the recession has been taking on the state’s charitable community. To view the full report visit: www.njnonprofits.org/2011AnnualSurveyRpt.pdf.

Winter Termination Program Ends

Individuals and families who are unable to make payments to their utilities could experience an interruption of service as the consumer protection period ends. The New Jersey Winter Termination Program – which aims to protect low to moderate income households from interruption of utility service due to the inability to afford energy during the coldest time of year (from mid-November through mid-March) – ended on March 15. The energy assistance programs in the state will see a spike in inquiries and applications during this time. The ability to aid these households is dependent on the amount of resources available.

Special Tax Credit Available for New Jersey’s Working Families

New Jersey’s workforce members who are in financial difficulty may be eligible for the 2010 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This special credit reduces the amount of taxes owed by eligible workers and sometimes provides a tax refund as well.

New Jersey individuals and families whose 2010 earnings were lower than $49,000 can get their taxes prepared free of charge. To find out where you can get free help filing your taxes, call the NJ Community Resource Hotline at 211 or 1-877-652-1148. For information on the Federal EITC, call 1-800-829-1040 or visit www.irs.gov/eitc. For information about the New Jersey EITC, call 1-866-698-9065 or visit www.njtaxation.org.
President's letter


Jim Jacob

This month both Legal Services Poverty Research Institute (LSPRI) and the Center for Non-Profits published reports documenting the plight of vulnerable households and the shrinking resources to meet the needs of our struggling neighbors.

These statistics translate to the energy assistance safety net as well. As the month of March comes to an end, energy emergencies for our neighbors escalate. The resources needed to meet the vulnerable population’s energy needs are rapidly shrinking and the demand continues to grow. The critical assistance programs in the state will see a spike in inquiries and applications during this time.

NJ SHARES administers the call center for the Department of Community Affairs to answer inquiries on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Universal Service Program (USF). Since the LIHEAP program opened on November 1, 2010, NJ SHARES has answered nearly 230,000 inquiries on LIHEAP and USF benefits.

LIHEAP is a critical energy assistance program that is open seasonally from November 1, through April 30. The Universal Service Program is available year-round.

Budget cuts have reduced LIHEAP’s eligibility requirements and benefit levels for 2011 and the President’s 2012 proposed budget calls for deeper more significant cuts. Energy conservation programs such as the federal Weatherization and state Comfort Partners programs have seen significant cuts as well and NJ SHARES has very limited funding.

Individuals and families who are unable to make good-faith payments to their utilities could experience an interruption of service and will be in danger of the tragedies associated with not having heat, cooling, or life sustaining medical equipment.

NJ SHARES continues to work with our counterparts across the nation and the National Fuel Fund Network to advocate for LIHEAP to be fully funded at the Federal level. For more information on LIHEAP funding, visit http://www.nationalfuelfunds.org/.

NJ SHARES would like to express our ongoing appreciation to our partners and friends who continue to work to find solutions for New Jersey’s working poor, moderate and fixed income population. Together with our Legislative, energy company, and agency partners, our donors, and our friends, we are working to address the needs of those who fall through the cracks of other assistance programs.

Best regards,
Jim Jacob
Events


NJ SHARES with Partners

NJ SHARES Presents at PSE&G Energy Workshops

NJ SHARES spoke about resources available for energy, telephone and water assistance at PSE&G’s Energy Assistance conferences. They were held in Edison, Paterson, North Bergen, Lawrenceville, Jersey City, Newark, and Camden.

NJ SHARES Exhibits at G.I. Go Job Fair

NJ SHARES exhibited our programs at the G.I. Go Job Fair at Rutgers University in Newark on March 15. It was a great way to educate veterans on what services are available to them - including energy assistance, telephone and water assistance programs.

NJ SHARES Showcased at Transition Fair

On March 10, NJ SHARES showcased programs at the Transition Fair at Brick Township Memorial High School. The fair was sponsored by MOCEANS Center for Independent Living and was held for physically and mentally handicapped high school students who are preparing to graduate and their families.

NJ SHARES Highlighted at Caregivers Coalition Meeting

NJ SHARES presented information on energy, telephone and water programs available at the Caregivers Coalition meeting held at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center in Whippany on March 9.
Conservation Corner

Conservation Corner is a new section of New Jersey SHARES’ Newsletter: Sharing Neighborhoods. As we identify innovative conservation ideas in New Jersey, we will share them with you.

This month, we highlight TransOptions, one of eight, Transportation Management Associations (TMA) in New Jersey. TMAs are non-profit organizations that work with businesses, commuters, county and local governments, and state agencies to implement programs that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Funding for the TMAs is provided, in part, by the Federal Highway administration through NJDOT and also by NJ TRANSIT. For more information about the Council and the TMA serving your area, visit http://www.tmacouncilnj.org/.
ACE’s 85 Ways to Save

Just in time for spring cleaning, Atlantic City Electric has some in-home tips for getting the most out of your heating system. Maintain proper air circulation. Keep heating supply registers and cold air return registers clear of draperies and furniture. Keep draperies and shades open during the day to let the sunshine in; close them at night to retain the warmth.

Atlantic City Electric has published a brochure, “85 Ways to Save Money and Energy.” The brochure highlights how to save energy. To view the brochure, visit: http://www.atlanticcityelectric.com/_res/documents/Rebranded%20brochures/conserving_energy/85_Ways_ACE.pdf

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
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Phone: 609-883-1626 | Toll Free: 866-657-4273 | Fax: 609-883-6364 | Email info@njshares.org
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