A multi-agency state program is aiming to create affordable housing with round the clock care for New Jerseyans with developmental disabilities.

It's called the Special Needs Housing Partnership, which is being oversee by the state Departments of Community Affairs and Human Services, along with the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

The main objective for the initiative is to integrate these individuals back into normal every day life, while also easing the travel for families to visit.

"We want to get those people in homes where they can receive social medical services, as well as be part of a community," said Richard Constable, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

Under the program, three or four bedroom ranch style homes and other first-story residences are identified and adapted to house up to 4 individuals. Municipalities would be responsible for getting the ball rolling and participating, but the state is a partner along the way.

And they have also aimed to add incentive for towns to join the program, by matching funds dollar for dollar up to $500,000, for money that towns use from the affordable housing trust fund.

Constable says this will help ease the burden to "purchase a home, rehab the home, retrofit it so that it could house up to 4 individuals with disabilities."

The state would also sweeten the pot a bit more.

Constable said, "But more than just the moneys for housing, what the state is going to do is provide round the clock care."

The goal is to try to alter some alarming trends.

"New Jersey is second in the nation, in terms of the number of individuals that are institutionalized," Constable explained, "And we want to change that, and make it the case that folks with disabilities are more part of communities."

So far, more than 30 towns have agreed to participate, while the Commissioner expects that 350 people, who are currently institutionalized, will be able to live in a home environment by next year because of this program.

You can learn more about this initiative on the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs website.



Adopt-A-Soldier Program

Want to help a soldier? Now you can. Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon is currently collecting food and personal items items for Operation NJ. Some of the most requested items include batteries, energy drinks, beef jerky and towels. To learn more about how you can get involved, go to www.adoptasoldierprogram.com

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration

Thanks to a $1.4 million federal grant, UMDNJ's University Behavioral HealthCare, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, will be adding new suicide prevention programming for individuals who work with youth and young adults from 10 to 24 years of age. The New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Project will target six pilot counties in a three-year period. The counties to be included include Passaic, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Camden and Bergen Counties. For more information on youth suicide prevention and resources, go to http://www.nj.gov/dcf/.