(Warren, NJ)—Following years of planning and advocacy, Mt. Bethel Village, a residential and day program for adults with special needs, welcomed its first resident whose rent is fully subsidized by the state of New Jersey.
Lindsay Kreinberg moved in on November 5th, 2015, as part of the Return Home New Jersey program in which special needs adults who are native to New Jersey are returned here to live from out of state. Ms. Kreinberg had been living in a residential community in Pennsylvania and was elated to be back near her home in Raritan where her family lives.
“We are so happy to have Lindsay back in NJ, living in her own beautiful apartment,” said Wendy Kreinberg, Lindsay’s mom. “Carolann Garafola and her wonderful staff at Mt. Bethel Village are all dedicated, caring and loving.”
After an exhaustive application process that took more than two years, the New Jersey Department of Developmental Disabilities this year designated nine Mt. Bethel Village apartments eligible to receive residents who are fully subsidized. While those residents are referred by the DDD, it is Mt. Bethel Village’s job to assess the suitability of each referral and to ultimately accept or reject him/her. Mt. Bethel requires its residents to be high functioning, mobile and without serious medical issues.
“The state prioritizes those eligible for one of our subsidized apartments,” said Carolann Garafola, Executive Director of Mt. Bethel Village. “First priority is adults living in institutions, followed by those in the Return Home NJ program, and finally emergency placements.”
Ms. Kreinberg’s family is not responsible for any expenses of the one-bedroom apartment including the purchase of new furniture. The unit comes with hookups for cable television and a phone and wireless internet. Under DDD regulations and programming, she will also have her own Direct Support Staff who will help her through the day with things like dressing, toileting, grooming or other life skill activities.
Simone Waters, newly hired as Residential Manager, will supervise the staff who will attend to the residents’ needs. With a degree in psychology and a background in supervising residential case workers, Ms. Waters gets a lot of satisfaction from serving this population.
“Watching them reach their goals and helping them do so is extremely rewarding,” she said.
Ms. Kreinberg had visited Mt. Bethel Village on several occasions. Because she uses a motorized wheelchair, the state required her to spend a night in the building and go through a fire drill to show that she could exit in less than three minutes during an emergency. She had also attended several social events at MBV and got to know some of the residents and staff.
“It brought tears to my eyes when Lindsay’s move in date was finalized,” said Mrs. Garafola. “She and her family had other places they could have gone, but they chose Mt. Bethel Village because it’s close to their home and because we have an excellent community here.”
The problem of finding housing for adults with special needs in New Jersey is serious with thousands on waiting lists for group homes or other residential placements. Many of these adults live at home with aging parents who fear for their adult children’s futures.
“This is a small step forward in relieving the very serious problem of housing for special needs adults in New Jersey,” remarked Mrs. Garafola. “We need many more subsidized apartments like those here at Mt. Bethel Village.”