12/14/2011

Twenty Successes — Systems Change: New Jersey Special Needs Housing Trust Fund

CSH has helped communities and states reform and create the systems needed for developing and sustaining supportive housing. Realizing change in systems at all levels of government involves the right combination of several key factors, including engaged leadership and a collaboration of groups and agencies with a shared goal.

Then New Jersey Governor Richard Codey was particularly interested in creating stable and safe housing for special needs populations and was looking for the best way to accomplish that goal. CSH, through participation on the State’s Mental Health Task Force, recommended that a Trust Fund dedicated to the development of supportive housing would be the best way to help New Jersey’s most vulnerable.  Providing input and technical assistance in identifying a funding stream, establishing development and lending guidelines, CSH was a leader at the table, working with various state agencies.

The result was a statewide Trust Fund used to finance the construction of quality, permanent supportive housing throughout New Jersey, administered by the State’s Housing and Finance Agency. And in 2009, the Trust Fund won the Award for Program Excellence from the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

The individual stories of lives that have been improved are the real success of the Trust Fund. At Robin’s Nest, one of the early recipients of funding, children aging out of the Foster Care system have the chance to improve the trajectory of their lives. Veronica arrived at Robin’s Nest after being placed into Foster Care. “I felt like there wasn’t a future. When I came to Robin’s Nest I got my life in order. I’m working, I feel more confident, and there’s just nothing that’s going to stop me. It is CSH’s hope that continued involvement in systems change, like establishing a Trust Fund, will create more stories of hope like Veronica’s.

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