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7/31/2012

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.

What's New

Summer’s Heat Waves and Severe Storms Force Hundreds of Thousands Across the State to Experience Life Without Power and Water

Usually we think of folks who suffer without heat during cold winter weather. This month, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans experienced life without utilities. For NJ SHARES’ clients the unstable financial atmosphere looms each month when tough choices are made between buying groceries, paying rent or the utility bills.

The life-threatening problems and inconveniences of having to survive without power and water made for state and federal emergency declarations.

Powerful line after powerful line of unusually severe thunderstorms marched together across the state making the term ‘super derecho’ a household name. The weather phenomenon which NJ first encountered stretched from Chicago to West Virginia and struck Southern New Jersey counties causing widespread devastation in some areas and leaving more than 200,000 without power in Atlantic, Salem and Cumberland counties - resulting in President Obama issuing a major disaster declaration for those counties.

The severe weather came just one day after Monmouth County Officials declared a state of emergency, when a bridge said to have been compromised by Hurricane Irene last year, collapsed causing water reservoir pipelines to break. Approximately 185,000 residents and tourists in Monmouth County suffered without power and limited water supplies while temperatures reached 100 degrees and remained in the 90s during the fourth of July holiday week. Residents with water service were urged to boil drinking water and conserve water by refraining from washing clothes and limiting showers. An outdoor-watering ban for watering plants and filling pools was enforced.

Residents in Northern and Central parts of the state got their turn to experience extreme weather too. As the third heat wave to engulf the region reached 105 degrees and the heat index — what the temperature actually feels like to the human body — hit a high of 108 degrees, strong storms swept through the state. This time dropping quarter size hail in Sussex county, toppling trees, downing power lines, flooding roads in many areas and casting down lightning strikes and residual fires on several homes in Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset counties. The storm knocked out power to approximately 40,000 residents in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

Again on Thursday, July 27, a line of powerful storms marched across the area wreaking havoc statewide. Though tornado's were not reported, trees were toppled, power was knocked out for approximately 60,000 households as live wires danced across streets, trains were halted and traffic brought to a snarl. Wind gusts reaching 60mph, reported to have caused a tractor trailer to flip over on route 80 near the Pennsylvania boarder.

As the weather reminds us of how important utilities are to our everyday survival, remember our neighbors who are battling their own unstable atmosphere. You have the power to help your neighbors keep their utilities on during a financial storm. Please donate today. http://www.njshares.org/howYouCanHelp/index.asp




Poverty Research Institute Study: ‘Gap Between New Jersey’s Richest and Poorest Widest Since the Great Depression.’

The age old adage, ‘The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,’ applies for the findings in the latest study conducted by Legal Services Poverty Research Institute.

In the last ten years, the rich flourished in the Garden State while most poor and middle class were struck by recession, hundreds of thousands impacted by job loss, smaller wages, and altered lifestyles.

In its first in-depth look at the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, the study found:

• New Jersey’s top 20 percent saw their average income rise by 22 percent from 2000 to 2009;

• Those earning less than $34,300 — about 3 million people — took home even smaller average paychecks by decade’s end;

• The top 1 percent — the 75,000 New Jerseyans earning at least $570,000 — accounted for more than a quarter of the new wealth generated in the state during the decade;

• Most of those in the middle didn’t share in the gains, and households led by women and minorities lost ground on both ends of the economic spectrum.

According to the Star Ledger, those who work for social service agencies say the Legal Services study proves what they have long understood — working people are faring worse. In 1990, only 19 percent of New Jereyans who held a job relied on food stamps. That grew to 30 percent by 2010, said Diane Riley, director for advocacy of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

"It’s not like people want to come to food pantries or go on food stamps. They are embarrassed. We talk to many people — seniors who refuse, yet they are not eating," said Riley, who is also a deacon in an Episcopal church.
"Some people get upset about income disparity, but people generally don’t tend to blame other people," she said. "They are very ashamed and internalize more than you think."

D. Miller, Director of Legal Services of New Jersey said, “As the middle class shrinks and the number of people living in poverty or near-poverty increases, their chance of climbing the ladder of economic success is likely to diminish," the report concludes. "That, in turn, increases the likelihood that not only they but their children in the future will have diminished lives."

To view the full report, Income Inequality in New Jersey: The Growing Divide and Its Consequences, visit: http://www.lsnj.org/PRIResearchReports.aspx.
Recent News Coverage of this study can be found:
http://njtoday.net/2012/07/29/study-shows-new-jersey-rich-get-richer-poor-poorer http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/07/study_shows_nj_wealthy_flouris.html



New Jersey’s Largest Utility Halts Viral Utility Scam to Protect Customers - Shares Solution

A nationwide utility bill payment scam clamming to use federal stimulus money and collecting Social Security and Bank Routing numbers went viral in New Jersey after originating on the west coast. Officials at Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) reported that despite several customer advisories issued in the spring regarding the scam, the news of the government assistance quickly spread by customers eager to share the opportunity with their friends and family. PSE&G blocked the use of the falsified Federal Reserve numbers as a means to pay bills electronically. Customers who tried entering such numbers into PSE&G’s online bill pay system would receive a "payment denial" message.

The real threat is identity theft. Only time will tell for the thousands of customers who have given out their information to the still unknown scammers. PSE&G will continue to share their solution with other utility companies nationwide to aid in the protection of utility customers across the country.

Follow the link below to review the credible energy assistance programs in New Jersey. http://www.pseg.com/home/customer_service/bill/help/payment_assist.jsp


Bread for the World Aims to Protect Programs Vital for Vulnerable

An offering of letters campaign is underway to protect programs that support the most poor and vulnerable people in our country and around the world. Congress will consider bills between now and December that will impact the hungry.

Learn about the campaign and the four key risk areas - domestic nutrition, poverty-focused foreign assistance, tax policies for low-income working families and international food aid - during a FREE workshop, to be held Saturday, September 8, 2012 from 9:00am -12:30pm at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton Office, 383 West State Street, Trenton, NJ. The meeting will be held on the second floor; Parking is located in the back of the building.Please RSVP by email: lhollar@bread.org, call 1-800-619-9239 or register online at www.bread.org/events.


Initial Sponsors of the Bread for the World campaign are Presbytery of Monmouth, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton and Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministries of NJ.


AARP Public Policy Institute Issues Alert on Older Americans Losing Their Homes

The first study to measure the progression of the mortgage crisis and its effect on people age 50 and older shows more than 1.5 million older Americans have lost their homes since 2007 and millions more remain at risk. Based on an analysis of nationwide loan-level data for the years 2007 to 2011, this study examines loan performance based on borrower age, loan type, and borrower demographics. Despite the perception that older Americans are more housing secure than younger people, millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than three million are at risk of losing their homes.

As of December 2011, approximately 3.5 million loans of people age 50+ were underwater—meaning homeowners owe more than their home is worth, so they have no equity; 600,000 loans of people age 50+ were in foreclosure, and another 625,000 loans were 90 or more days delinquent. For more information, visit: http://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/info-07-2012/nightmare-on-main-street-AARP-ppi-cons-prot.html


Recent Article Finds Affordable Housing for Seniors an Increasingly Vital Issue

New Jersey’s senior population grew by 6.5 percent, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Why is it that the number of seniors in the state is climbing but senior housing is not? Ten years ago, the idea that a large and affluent baby boomer generation would sell their homes and move into the adult communities that offer shopping and community interaction was attractive to municipalities strapped with mounting government and school costs because the property is ratable and seniors have little impact on schools and other services.

Factor in the recession, the housing market collapse, and economic and demographic shifts and we get an entirely different real estate demand. As a result, age restricted new construction projects have stalled, financing these projects became less feasible to lenders, and developers folded.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Association of Home Builders 2009 study found fewer than 3 percent of 55-and-older households have chosen to move to senior housing. According to Jeff Otteau, a real estate analyst and president of Otteau Valuation Group Inc, New Jersey has one of the largest rates of seniors leaving to live in other states to stretch their retirement dollars further.

Now seniors are more likely to stay in their home than originally anticipated due to underfunded retirement portfolios, seniors deciding to work later into their lives and more households change composition to multi-generations of families, including both elderly parents and adult children living at home.

With demand lacking, some of the under sold active adult communities are being changed into housing for all ages, a controversial proposal for many towns. Follow the links to view the Atlantic City Press article. http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/press/atlantic/new-jersey-s-population-is-aging-but-senior-housing-isn/article_99b6700a-cba9-11e1-be53-0019bb2963f4.html New Jersey's population is aging — but senior housing isn't booming By JOEL LANDAU Staff Writer pressofAtlanticCity.com

executive Letter


Jim Jacob, NJ SHARES President & CEO

Last month, we spoke about the dangers of not having air conditioning, particularly for the elderly, disabled or infirm. Undue strain on the heart and blood vessels may cause heat stress, heart failure and stroke. As a result, those with heart problems, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or a history of stroke need to be extra diligent about keeping cool to prevent hyperthermia and other heat-related problems among the state’s vulnerable population.

This month, we have seen the effects of multiple heat waves, severe storms, power outages and water restrictions putting added stress on our neighbors who are still coping with the economic stress of maintaining their households. Unfortunately, we learned that thousands in New Jersey fell victim to a nationwide scam claiming to aid customers with their utility bills. The scammers then asked for Social Security numbers and a bank routing numbers and gave out phony Federal Reserve numbers with instructions to pay bills online like one would redeem a gift card when making an online purchase.

Credible energy assistance and efficiency resources must be applied for and supporting documentation is required to prove financial need. Energy assistance and efficiency programs whether government or charitable, will never ask for a bank routing number. Information about benefits and required documentation should be available to applicants at the time of application. Be wary of programs that solicit you and ask for identity and banking information. NJ SHARES partners with more than 300 organizations statewide who receive annual training and individual support in educating and assisting clients with the process of applying for energy resources. NJ SHARES’ policy is to apply grants directly to the applicant’s utility bills to avoid the exchange of money through multiple parties. These policies serve to expedite the customer protection and restoration processes and reduce the opportunity for fraud. Visit the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities website for credible assistance and efficiency programs available, http://www.nj.gov/bpu/residential/assistance/.

As a statewide community we need to work together to help our neighbors. NJ SHARES assistance is available in all counties. I’d like to offer gratitude to our utility partners and their restoration work crews for their efforts with restoration projects around the state all month. Thanks to our agency partners for jumping into action to assist our neighbors who needed shelter and to the NJ SHARES financial supporters and friends. Thank you for your continued and meaningful support! Together we make a difference in service to our neighbors in need.

Sincerely,
Jim Jacob

Water ASSISTANCE Programs


H20 To Help Others

New Jersey American Water (NJAW) offers two programs to help New Jersey households afford their water bills. The H2O Help to Others Program™ is a grant applied directly to a customer account and the Low Income Payment Program is a reduced rate. NJ SHARES administers the application process for these two NJAW customer programs. Customers are also screened for conservation benefits at the time of application. For more information, visit: http://www.njshares.org/otherPrograms/nj-american-water.asp



United Water Cares

UW Cares provides grants to pay the water bills of households in need through a network of community-based social service agencies located throughout the United Water service territories. For information on applying for assistance please call 1-888-942-8080. UW Cares is supported by United Water and administered by New Jersey SHARES. For more information, visit: http://uwcares.org/index.asp

emergency PreparEdness Tips

New Jersey American Water Offers Water Emergency Tips

During the water emergency in Monmouth County, New Jersey American Water set up three distribution centers for residents who needed bottled water. In the wake of multiple storm related utility issues, the company offers water emergency preparedness tips. Knowing what to do during a water emergency is important. Here are some recommendations:
1) Bring tap water to a rolling boil for one minute and allow to cool before using for consumption; drinking, ice cubes, washing vegetables and fruit, and for brushing teeth; 2) Keep boiled water in the refrigerator for drinking; 3) Do not swallow water while you are showering or bathing; 4) Throw away uncooked food or beverages or ice cubes if made with tap water during the day of the advisory; 5) Rinse hand-washed dishes for a minute in diluted bleach (one tablespoon of household bleach per gallon of tap water) or clean your dishes in a dishwasher using the hot wash cycle and dry cycle. 6) Provide pets with boiled water after cooling; 7) Do not use home filtering devices in place of boiling or using bottled water; most home water filters will not provide adequate protection from microorganisms; 8) Use only boiled water to treat minor injuries.



Atlantic City Electric Emergency Preparedness Tips:

Because power outages sometimes happen, planning ahead is essential. Here are some things you can do right now to prepare: http://www.atlanticcityelectric.com/home/emergency/weather/

Agency Toolbox


Coming Soon: Updates to Agency Materials

Agencies please be advised that NJ SHARES materials detailing income requirements and how to enter unemployment income will be updated and available to view and download on the NJ SHARES Agency Use Only site. A system message will alert you to the changes when they have been made.

If you have questions or require training, please email outreach@njshares.org.

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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