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Good Neighbors Community Living For People With Disabilities.  New Jersey Department of Human Services.  1-877-DHS-Line (347-5463).

If you or someone in your family had a mental or physical disability, how would you feel if you heard people say, "I don't want them living near me," "Those people are dangerous," "Once they move in, my property values will go down," or "No thanks, not in my neighborhood"?

Unfortuanately, thousands of people with disabilities and their families hear these words all too often.

The fact is, people with disabilities have been living in community programs such as group homes and apartments across New Jersey for more than two decades. They have been living, working, going to school, making friends, attending church -- in short, living their lives -- just like all of us.

Today, their success stories are played out every day in homes across New Jersey -- homes with a proven track record for being good neighbors.

About Community Living People with Disabilities
The Department of Human Services (DHS) develops community homes for people with disabilities and for a small number of children and youth under the supervision of the Division of Youth and Family Services.  Most community homes are for people with developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation and cerebral palsy or people with mental illnesses, such as sever or manic depression or schizophrenia.

"The most difficult obsticle to overcome is dealing with other peopl's attitudes about mental illness - the fear and the stereotyping.  People with mental illness have the same wants, needs and desires as anyone else" -- Margaret and her husband Jim.

Today approximately 4,600 people woth developmental disabilities, about 2,000 people with mental illness and about 350 children in the child protective services system live in DHS homes throughout New Jersey's communities.

Before a person moves into one of these homes, he or she is carefully evaluated by a team of doctors and professionals who have experience and expertise with people with disabilities or trouble youth.  In addition, services that are tailored to fit each individual's needs must be in place.  These services include daily activity programs, job training, transportation and physical therapy.

During the day, residnts either go to work or attend job training, educational programs or therapy.  Usually, one to three people live in a supervised apartment, while normally four to six people live in a group home.  Twenty-four-hour supervision depends on the residnets' needs and level of independence.

If people are considered to be a danger to themselves or others, a community living program is not recommended for them.

"Although William is unable to express it, O can tell that he likes his group home better (than the institution).  He is much happier now.  And, here's the best part - because William's group home is close to his mother, she is now able to have him home agian to visit." -- William and his nephew and his mother.

Did you know:
  • Most group homes for people with disabilities qualify for a Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) bonus? Group homes may qualify for a "two-for-one" credit, based upon the number of bedrooms, toward a municipality's COAH obligation.
  • The Federal Fair Housing Act Amendment specifically extended the law to cover people with disabilities in order to prevent housing discrimination? This law prohibits local zoning rules to discriminate in housing opportunities for people with disabilities and makes it unlawful to deny a dwelling to any buyer or renter becaues of a handicap.
  • Research on the experience of other states has shown that property values remain unaffected by community residences" For example, a study of property market activity around 12 Pilidelphia mental health facilities concluded that no decline in sales prices occurred due to the presence of community homes.
So, consider this:
If you had a disability, wouldn't you like to have the chance to be a good neighbor, too?

We welcome your questions about residential programs.  If you would like to speak to one of our representatives and/or arrange for a presentation for your organization, call 1-877-DHS-LINE (347-5463) or visit our website at

Good Neighbors, Community Living for People with Disabilities is coordinated by the New Jersey Department of Human Services.  We are proud to have developed this information program in partnership with people with disabilities and their families, community and government leaders and with representatives of disability advocacy and human service provider agencies.
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