United Way | FAQs
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What is Bergen County United Way/Madeline Housing Partners?

Bergen County’s United Way/Madeline Housing Partners is a non-profit affordable housing developer. We formed our partnership with the Madeline Corporation, a non-profit affordable housing developer to advance safe, affordable housing serving families, seniors and special needs individuals – the highest human services need in our community.

What are Very Special Homes?

The Very Special Homes we build with our partner, the Madeline Corporation, are safe and affordable housing for low-income families, seniors, veterans, and individuals with special needs. The developments we build include group homes, independent living and senior rental housing, and for purchase townhouses and condos for first-time homebuyers.

How are Very Special Homes funded?

We have an established record of collaboration and trust with municipal, county and state entities and have secured more than $30 million in funding since we began developing our Very Special Homes in 2004.

How long does it take for a project to be completed?

Most of our developments take 12 – 18 months to complete once we have a shovel in the ground. However, the planning process for a new development can sometimes take several years from identifying the right property, to obtaining municipal and state approvals, and securing government grants and charitable gifts.

What services does Bergen County’s United Way/Madeline Housing Partners provide?

We manage all aspects of project development including site acquisition, new construction, renovation, revitalization, property management and social services coordination for our special needs projects.

We are designated as a Certified Housing Development Corporation (CHDO) by the New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs and recognized as a developer of choice by the New Jersey State Department of Developmental Disabilities.

Tenants of our special needs housing receive support from our Housing Services Coordinator. The Housing Services Coordinator assists with screening tenant eligibility, assessing the service needs and connecting tenants to support resources, and ensuring that quality standards are met.

Who oversees the properties?

Our partner, the Madeline Corporation is responsible for the maintenance of the property, which includes landscaping, snow removal, and problems with major appliances. We are not social service providers. Our group homes are staffed 24/7 by state approved service providers. Our independent living residences are not staffed. However, our Housing Services Coordinator works with tenants and their families to ensure that appropriate services are in place.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Eligibility will depend upon the funding sources we use to construct the housing. For most of our developments (with the exception of group homes), applicants must be age appropriate, able to live independently without supervision, and meet eligibility requirements for a low-income housing. Applicants with a developmental disability must also have an active service provider who provides ongoing supportive services and is willing to enter into a formal agreement with Bergen County’s United Way/Madeline Housing Partners. Applicant referrals for group home placement are made by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities.

What do you consider a developmental disability?

We adhere to the state’s definition. Examples include: Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, individuals with intellectual disabilities, Multiple Sclerosis, etc).

What is the role of a service provider?

A service provider delivers individualized supportive services. The service provider can be a licensed professional or agency, such as a non-profit organization. The service provider is self selected by the tenant. This is known as the consumer choice model. The service provider must be willing to enter into a formal Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Bergen County’s United Way/Madeline Housing Partners to ensure that they will provide the appropriate ongoing services that are required for the tenant to be successful in living independently.

What types of support do service providers offer?

Service providers tailor services based on the individual’s needs, which vary person to person, and can change over time. Some examples of different services include case management, cleaning, assistance with budgeting, menu planning, travel training, or job coaching.

If I don’t have a service provider, how can I find one?

You can contact your DDD Case Manager for assistance, or locate one based on your specific needs at www.fscnj.org. Then, click on Services and then Resource Database.

How are these services paid for?

The individual and his/her family organize the best way to utilize financial resources. Some examples of how services are paid for include, 1) DDD services budget, 2) Medicaid, 3) private pay, 4) earnings from employment, or 5) SSI income.

Is there a waiting list?

We do not have a waiting list. We are maintaining a database with the contact information for individuals interested in living in our housing developments. When applications for housing are released, we contact everyone in the database to alert them.

How can I get added to your database?

All you need to do is email your name, contact information and the type of housing you are interested in.

How does the application process work?

The public will be notified of available housing by mailing list, through local newspaper ads, or through a local service provider. Each open application has a specific time frame in which it must be completed and submitted including any additional documentation that may be required. All applications received by the submission deadline will be assigned an identifying number and a lottery will be held. The identified individuals will then have their application reviewed, and if eligibility criteria are met, an interview will be scheduled. Selection will not be determined until all interviews have been conducted.

Are there any scheduled activities or outings?

The tenants of the community will have access to the Community Room to organize activities. Bergen County’s United Way/Madeline Housing Partners hosts periodic tenant meetings where news and updates are provided, as well as providing an opportunity for tenants to discuss any property issues or concerns. There are no formalized activities or outings that are arranged by a particular agency; rather, the tenants are encouraged to arrange their own gatherings.

What do the tenants do for transportation?

The tenants are responsible for their own transportation to get to/from where they need to go. Some tenants have cars and drive, others take public transportation, at times the tenants will pay for a taxi/Uber, and others rely on family members.

How are the roommates paired up?

Roommate selection is primarily based on gender, age, and common interests. Other factors are taken into consideration, such as schedule/routine, family demographics, disability and support needs.

Who cooks and cleans?

The tenants cook and clean for themselves. Some residents receive assistance from their service providers to help with certain tasks such as cleaning or doing laundry. Some residents/roommates pay for a cleaning service 1x per month to help with more physically challenging tasks (vacuuming, scrubbing the shower, cleaning the oven, etc).

Are there vacancies

Right now there are no openings at the developments we have completed. However, we continue to build. See Project Tracker for information about projects in the pipeline.

Is a security deposit required?

Each tenant will be responsible to pay a security deposit equal to 1 ½ months rent.

Do I have to pay utilities?

We assist tenants in becoming eligible and applying for all forms of utility assistance.

How is rent determined?

Rents are determined based on the US Housing and Urban Development annual guidelines for affordability. If a tenant is receiving federal or state rental assistance, the tenant’s responsibility toward the monthly rent is 30% of their gross income.

Are pets allowed?

Tenants are not allowed to have pets.

What happens to my special needs child when I pass away or am no longer able to care for them?

As tenants transition into independent living, it is encouraged that the family prepare for ongoing life plans. This would include agreements primarily with the service provider, and any additional family, friends or neighbors. We encourage families to start planning who will be involved in their loved one’s life to assist with ongoing needs and provide a caring support system. Families are also encouraged to identify and address other types of living situations, should they become necessary. For example, a nursing home may need to be identified during the planning process for a tenant who may later in life have a higher risk of becoming non-ambulatory.

What does the future hold for these Very Special Homes?

The Bergen County’s United Way/Madeline Housing Partners is committed to continuing development of our Very Special Homes. As information about our other projects becomes available, we will be sharing that information on our website www.bergenunitedway.org. Please check back here regularly for more information on our development activities.

How will you help this year?