SOMERVILLE, NJ - Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, is proud to announce the launch of its Healing Homes housing program.
Healing Homes will soon be available to eligible Somerset County residents who have a chronic or acute health condition that causes financial hardship and are unable to afford housing and/or their basic needs. Two local, single-family homes owned by RWJUH Somerset, and within close proximity to the hospital, are currently being renovated for this program and will be utilized to house two eligible individuals or families for up to 24-months.
“It is our mission to serve the people of our community beyond the walls of our hospital and to address the social factors that affect health outcomes,” said Tony Cava, President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. “Healing Homes will allow us to provide sustainable solutions for our neighbors who encounter both economic and health challenges and are in need of a healthy and safe environment in which to live.”
Healing Homes is a transitional housing program. It allows an individual who is approved to participate in the program to have a license to occupy a RWJUH Somerset-owned residential home with his/her immediate family for the duration of their participation in the Program, not to exceed 24 months. To be approved, an individual must complete an application and be selected for program participation.
In addition to temporary housing, each program participant will be assigned to a social worker who will work with them to assess their clinical and social service needs, and provide ongoing training and support including assistance with transportation, financial counseling, mental health services and permanent housing.
To be eligible for the Healing Homes program, participants must complete an application and meet the following criteria for consideration: have a chronic or acute disease, such as diabetes or cancer, that causes financial hardship and makes them unable to afford housing and/or basic cost of living; have limited access to health care; and earn below the New Jersey Housing and Urban Development (HUD) income guidelines. Preference will be given to residents in the towns identified in the hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment with a median household income below the Somerset County average (Bound Brook, Franklin, Manville, North Plainfield, Somerville and South Bound Brook). Additionally, participants must demonstrate a willingness to achieve the goals identified by the social worker in their individual progress plan to improve their circumstances.
Applications are now available online at www.rwjbh.org/somersethealinghomes and are being accepted through April 5.
“Participants in the Healing Homes program will be provided with the support and resources they need to become self-sufficient,” said Serena Collado, Director of Community Health, RWJUH Somerset. “As part of RWJBarnabas Health, we are committed to community wellness and we recognize that one’s health is all encompassing. When someone is ill, the last thing they need to worry about is whether or not they have a place to sleep. This program will provide a safety net for those who need it.”
Healing Homes further expands RWJUH Somerset’s investment in its community. The hospital provides nearly $1 million in free community services and education annually, including more than 600 health education events and 175 health screenings. Other community benefit activities offered by RWJUH Somerset include free annual cardiac athletic screenings for young athletes in the community, food donations, with 140 turkeys provided this year to area food pantries for Thanksgiving, and a number of charitable “drives” including an employee Toy Drive that culminates in an annual holiday party attended by nearly 125 children in the community, a diaper drive, warm blanket drive and back-to-school drive.
This initiative is part of RWJBarnabas Health’s Social Impact and Community Investment practice and is a continuation of the system’s efforts to provide safe and affordable housing for those in need. Research demonstrates that those with safe, affordable and stable housing have improved clinical and mental health outcomes; reduced stress; improved educational attainment; and reduced incidence of food insecurity.
RWJUH Somerset launched Healing Homes with assistance and guidance from the newly formed task force, which includes representatives from several local and state organizations.
Renovations on the first home are expected to be completed by early April. The second home will begin renovation later this year.
For more information about Healing Homes or to complete an application, please visit www.rwjbh.org/somersethealinghomes or call RWJUH Somerset’s Community Health Department at (908) 685-2814. Applications for Healing Homes must be submitted by April 5.