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5/31/2012

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.

President's Letter


Jim Jacob, President and CEO

New Jersey SHARES served as one of the co-convening organizations of the Anti-Poverty Network Summit which highlighted the plight of our neighbors and the urgent need for a holistic approach to burdens facing these good people.

Barbara Offredo, a Mercer county NJ SHARES recipient, gave a touching account of her struggles as a single mom, who works as a Hospice Nurse to support her two boys. Despite her valiant effort working nights to be home for her children during the day, Barbara struggles to afford the rent on her modest two-bedroom apartment.

Not wanting to ‘fail her children’, Barbara juggles being late on other bills. Unfortunately the juggling does not always work and they had to live without electricity, not being able to cook or take showers. This crisis had her 11 year old son worried, Barbara turned to her Hospice Nurse skills and comforted her son, by setting up flashlights and pretending to camp. Equally as brave, Barbara reached out for help and NJ SHARES was able to assist with her electric bill which freed up some resources for Barbara to be able to afford her rent.

Barbara’s story is more common of our neighbors now than at any time in recent memory. In order to be able to make a real difference our policy makers will need to understand the statistics on financial insecurity here in New Jersey. We are grateful to the Legal Services of New Jersey for partnering with the Anti-Poverty Network to share their research with community members across our state and to the advocates and legislators who came to hear the message at the Summit.

Please join us in support of the Anti-Poverty Network’s three high priority issues - Employment, Housing and Hunger - and their recommendations for real workable solutions to address them. For more information, please visit: http://www.antipovertynetwork.org/5.html.

On a national level, we can take action now by joining our partners at the Jewish Council on Public Affairs in their efforts to save the 'Heat and Eat' program. Visit the following links to quickly and easily sign on to support funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and the Heat and Eat component.

http://engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org/blog/comments.jsp?key=476&blog_entry_KEY=6217&t=

http://engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org/c/627/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9829

Thanks to all our partners and friends for your continued support!

Sincerely,

Jim Jacob
What's New


New Jersey Poverty Research Institute Finds 1 out of 4 Residents Suffer Poverty

According to the Poverty Benchmark Report released this month by the Legal Services Poverty Research Institute (LSNJPRI) a quarter of the state’s residents live in Poverty – the highest number in the state’s history.

If you are lucky enough to be employed in New Jersey, you may note the state ranks as one of the highest income states in the nation but many can attest that it comes with a hefty cost-of-living price tag too. The LSNJPRI report documents the pain of poverty in our state noting that 2 million people earn annual incomes less than 200% of Federal Poverty Measure - which is $34,692 for a family of three. Since the recession began in 2007, 28,000 people were added to this rank.

The national baseline for poverty is defined by the Federal Human Service Department and illustrates households of 3 earning less than $17,346 as being in poverty. The measure of poverty is identical for every state in the nation. The current measure does not consider the cost of living differences in each state. The LSNJPRI report defines households of three making under $34,692 as suffering poverty in New Jersey – twice the federal poverty level. However, the Real Cost of Living in New Jersey is sited as $54,930 – triple the Federal Poverty Level.

The average cost of living to successfully sustain basic necessities without any luxuries is approaching $60,000 for a household of three. New Jersey is named the third least affordable state for housing by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The coalition sites, to afford a fair market value two bedroom apartment in NJ, renters must make $52,081 annually the equivalent of making $25.04 per hour for 40 hours a week. More than 1 million households rent a two bedroom in NJ, which represents 33% of the overall renter population, 62% of this segment of renters are unable to afford their rent.

It may not be surprising the LSNJPRI report finds unemployment as the highest in 30 years and under-employment following the same trend. What is shocking is the Report’s finding that 18 -24 year olds in the state suffer with the highest unemployment rate nearing 25% and the residual effects that will follow this group throughout their lives.

Further alarming is the claim that the nation would have to produce 200,000 jobs per month to keep unemployment flat. Higher numbers in employment production would begin to reduce poverty. Other poverty reducing suggestions were offered by the Anti-Poverty Network. For further details on the Poverty Report visit www.lsnj.com.



NJ SHARES recipient, Barbara Offredo, shares her story at the Summit.

Anti-Poverty Network Summit on Poverty

The Anti-Poverty Network called for an ‘Investment in the People of New Jersey’ at their Poverty Summit held Monday, May 21st from 9:00am-3:00pm at the Trenton War Memorial.

Nearly 200 people participated in the Summit which illustrated the current and harsh realities of poverty and income insecurity documented with data released by the Legal Services of New Jersey’s Poverty Research Institute. The data focused on employment, housing and hunger, three major concerns for households in the state.

The dynamic dialogue included participants from community organizations, advocates, people living in poverty, legislators, state officials and others. The attendees heard accounts from three recipients of various anti-poverty programs. The stories each included heartwarming accounts of faith in our policy makers to understand their plight and appreciation for the social programs that were able to answer their call. The Anti-Poverty network has identified and prepared recommendations to combat unaffordable housing, high unemployment and hunger. For a full report on the anti-poverty network’s high priority recommendations to invest in the people of New Jersey visit: http://www.antipovertynetwork.org/5.html



Sen. Debbie Stabnow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, discussing the Farm Bill with JCPA leaders at the JCPA Plenum in Detroit

Join Our Friends in Protecting the Heat and Eat Program

In recent weeks both the House of Representatives and Senate have been considering legislation that could reduce funding and access to vital food assistance programs, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), a top legislative priority for the Jewish Council on Public Affairs.

The Farm Bill, a broad piece of legislation covering programs like agriculture subsidies and nutrition assistance, was passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee in late April. This bill would cut $4 billion from SNAP through the'Heat and Eat' program. Heat and Eat, which occurs in 14 states and the District of Columbia, allows low-income households that receive LIHEAP (home heating and cooling assistance) dollars to receive a higher SNAP benefit. The Senate Farm Bill proposal raises the minimum amount LIHEAP recipients can receive before qualifying to participate in Heat and Eat. The program predominantly benefits low-income seniors and people with disabilities. It is estimated that if this change goes into effect 500,000 low-income households would lose an average of $90 in monthly benefits.

Separately, last week, the House of Representatives approved a reconciliation bill (H.R. 5652) 218-199, which cut SNAP $36 billion over the next ten years If enacted, these cuts would eliminate assistance for approximately 2 million SNAP recipients and 280,000 children who receive free school meals. Additionally, every SNAP household would see a cut in benefits, effective this summer.

Take Action: Reach out to your Members of Congress and ask them to protect the neediest by protecting SNAP. To do this, copy and paste the following links into your browser.

http://engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org/blog/comments.jsp?key=476&blog_entry_KEY=6217&t=

Sign this online petition and add your voice to the more than 17,000 Jewish activists calling for a just Farm Bill.
http://engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org/c/627/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9829

End of LIHEAP Season Means Vulnerable Households Need to Turn to NJ SHARES

On April 30, 2011, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) closed for the season. The LIHEAP program aids households who need energy assistance whose income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.

LIHEAP closing leaves households to turn to the Universal Service Program which is available year-round to applicants who are at or below 175% of the federal poverty guideline. Households over 200% FPL can apply for TRUE, if not qualified for TRUE, then households can apply for NJ SHARES.

Those households caught between 176% FPL (where USF ends) and 200% FPL (where the TRUE program begins), who would have been income eligible for LIHEAP but did not apply for LIHEAP this heating season, can apply for NJ SHARES.

To apply for USF, clients should call 1-866-240-1347.
To apply for NJ SHARES visit: www.njshares.org or call: 1-866-657-4273


National Women’s Health Week

On a national level, May is a time to recognize women’s health issues, featuring National Women’s Health Week (May 13-19), a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Women often serve as caregivers for their families, putting the needs of their spouses, partners, children, and parents before their own. As a result, women’s health and well-being becomes secondary. As a community, we have a responsibility to support the important women we know and do everything we can to help them take steps for longer, healthier, and happier lives. The National Women’s Health Week empowers women to make their health a top priority, emphasizing exercise, good nutrition, health screenings, avoiding risky behaviors and paying attention to mental health.

Events


NJ SHARES Partners with the NJ Social Workers Conference

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) held its annual New Jersey Social Workers’ Conference from May 7th through 9th. The conference themed ‘Social Work Leadership: Tools for Effective Change’ was held at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. NJ SHARES had the opportunity to speak with the state network of social workers who can potentially offer the NJ SHARES programs as part of their holistic solutions for clients. The New Jersey Chapter of NASW, with over 7,600 members, is the major professional social work organization in the state.

NASW is committed to advancing professional social work practice and the profession; and to promoting human rights, social and economic justice, and unimpeded access to services for everyone. Its members work in hospitals and other health care settings, community agencies, government, academia, business, nursing homes, schools, and private practice.



Event to Recognize Caregivers Highlights NJ SHARES Information

In collaboration with Rutgers Law School and Grandma KARES, AARP hosted an event to recognize those who may not be mothers, but are ‘mothering’ when they step in to raise children. Data from the Pew Research Center determined that 10% of all children under eighteen were being raised by grandparents and other relatives. Parents of these children may be deceased or suffering from mental illness, alcohol and drug dependency, incarceration or simply unable to care for their children. Empty nester grandparents and extended family are finding themselves with children to raise long after they thought their parenting efforts were finished. AARP recognizes that these newly created families must be supported and nurtured.

The event took place on May 11th, the Friday before Mothers Day, and was held at the Rutgers School of Law in Newark. NJ SHARES hosted an information table to speak with the nearly 300 people who attended the event.



Abilities Expo Showcases NJ SHARES Programs

The New York Metro Abilities Expo was held May 4-6 at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison. The conference is dedicated to educating and improving the lives of Americans with disabilities, senior citizens, families, caregivers, healthcare professionals, professional therapists and corporate administrators. NJ SHARES provided information on programs available and sought out new agency partners with particular emphasis on disabilities.

Conservation Corner


Energy and Money Saving Game Offers $27,000 Prizes and Benefits Community Organizations

New Jersey Natural Gas is offering valuable energy efficiency tips and incentives through an online game called Save Energy. $ave Money. Win Prizes! If you live in New Jersey Natural Gas service territory, be sure to play Save Energy. $ave Money. Win Prizes! -- NJNG’s new matching game. NJNG is giving away $27,000 in prizes. The more you play the greater your chance of winning a daily instant prize and learning about practical solutions to save energy and money. Plus you can play on behalf of NJ SHARES and help increase our chance of winning one of two $2,500 community organization cash prizes. To ensure NJ SHARES gets the proper credit to increase our chances of winning too, click the link above and select Non-Profit Organization then type NJ SHARES into the text box provided. Play daily through July 14, 2012.

Agency Toolbox


Households caught between 176% and 199% that would have been income eligible for LIHEAP but did not apply for LIHEAP this year, can apply for 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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