If I had to choose one group to belong to, this would be it

"SHA-NJ is a unique housing organization. Not only does it offer top notch speakers, programs and networking, it concentrates on systems-change across a diverse membership. If I had to choose only one group to belong to- this would be it."

– Krystal Odell, Director of Supportive Services for Pennrose Management Company and President/CEO of PennReach Inc.

The difference between a recovery environment and a place of powerlessness

As a resident of a supervised apartment mental health setting for ten of the last fourteen years, including currently, I understand very well why supportive/supported housing rather than supervised must be acknowledged as the humane and recuperative setting. When the case management and support that people with special needs rely on so heavily are provided by the same people managing our housing, there are great barriers to building trusting relationships and healthy recovery plans with those counselors. For most people, landlords are among the most powerful entities we need to interact with in our lives. There is no time when we need a partner, an advocate, more than when we are in conflict with that powerful entity. When counselors' roles include enforcement of rules and monitoring of our private space, then they become in many ways an extended presence of the intimidating landlord more than the helpful presence that remains needed. In short, supportive housing is the difference between a recovery environment and a place of powerlessness.

–Nathan Fishman, graduate student and consumer advocate

Giving a voice to those who cannot find their own

I love to build stuff - always have. That passion comes in handy as an architect, but it's not enough. My other passion is to help people live better lives, and that probably explains why I've spent my entire professional career working to create and improve affordable housing opportunities. It may sound strange coming from an architect, but when you put those two passions together, one thing is very clear to me: communities are all about people... not buildings. People of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, economic status, and a myriad of other issues - people living together, learning about each other, and drawing strength from each other. Life simply is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor - and that's where SHA steps in.

There will always be those issues that are 'the hardest of the hard' to deal with, and making a place in the community for those who need some additional support to live a better - dare I say 'more normal' - life is one of those 'hard' issues. In a world where we tend to take the easier road, and give our attention to those who shout the loudest, SHA purposely takes the more difficult path, and gives a voice to those who cannot find their own. SHA makes sure that the weaker voices are not forgotten, and that the strong in our society don't forget that they have something to learn from those who just need some extra help - and that our communities are far better as a result of including, not isolating, them. Advocacy for such an integrated, community-based living environment for those with special needs is at the heart of what SHA is all about...but that's not all...

SHA is also about making sense out of the chaos. In addition to my professional interests in supportive housing, I also happen to be the father of a now-adult 'child' who has severe developmental challenges, so I have a front-row seat to both the day-to-day struggle as well as the long-term challenge of planning for her to (someday) move out of my home and into a place of her own. As a parent, I confess to often being confused by a world filled with confusing acronyms and ever-changing policies, funding programs, caseworkers, etc. Yes, I have a college degree and work with supportive housing issues daily - and STILL I get confused by this shifting landscape! (I don't know how the average family out there can really make sense of it all). My experience has been that SHA understands this confusion, and they bring together the people who can make sense of it, sort it out, and focus on how to use these often-confusing resources to see that these desperately-needed homes are created, and the support services provided - so that when that day comes, there will be a place for her, and people to care for her... and it may just be right in my own neighborhood.

–Steven Stephen L Schoch, AIA, LEED-AP
Managing Principal
Kitchen & Associates Services, Inc.

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