For more than 20 years, UCP has owned and managed a residential property on Main Street that is home to those with a disability that prevents them from earning a living wage.
“It is a home where four unrelated individuals with limited incomes can live together,”said Andrea Krich, executive director of the local chapter of UCP on Jan. 18.
The UCP program encourages the residents of their independent living homes to contribute as much as they can toward rent, with the charitable organization funding the rest of the cost of maintaining the home.
“Thirty percent of their income, from whatever source, goes to rent,” said Krich.
Krich said this type of independent living home is different than the better known group homes. Those living in group homes require qualified staff to be on hand at all times, while an independent living home like the one in Randolph offers primarily a means of affordable housing.
The Randolph home has four bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and family room with a full basement that is used primarily for storage.
Like all homes, it has to be maintained as the years pass with things like roofing, plumbing, electric, and all the same repairs and upgrades private homes require.
To meet the needs of the home’s residents, some special consideration has to be given to handicap accessibility that meets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Main Street ranch-style house has only one ADA compliant bedroom, but organizers would like to renovate a second one accordingly. More importantly, the house needs a new roof, an ADA compliant bathroom, and repairs to the septic system.
To that end, UCP has applied for a $40,000 grant through the state Community Block Grant Program (CBGP) with the full support of local officials, approval of which was unanimously provided at the Jan. 10 Township Council meeting.
Krich said local officials have always been supportive of UCP’s efforts in Randolph.
Krich said her organization’s name does not accurately define the wide range of work they do.
“The name is really a misnomer,” said Krich. “Once it was only about helping people with cerebral palsy, but now it includes those with other disabilities like autism, spina bifida, and traumatic brain injuries. Our residents have to be over the age of 18 and have a disability. They can basically take care of themselves, but are unable to earn enough to pay the high cost of rent in New Jersey.”
“We have young people who have been living at home but want to be on their own, and others who have no one,” said Krich. “Their ages now range from the mid-20s to mid-40s. This type of affordable housing is a comfort to aging parents by giving them the peace of mind in knowing there will be someplace their son or daughter will be able to live once they are gone.”
Even though UCP received funds from Randolph Township as well as another charitable organization called HOME to establish the independent living home on Main Street more than 20 years ago, and is now seeking a government grant for major repairs, the home is nonetheless a good investment for taxpayers.
Residents of the home pay 30 percent of their income toward rent, amounting to approximately $9,000 to $11,000 each year. UCP uses contributions to pay the additional $20,000 it takes to operate the home.
Providing affordable housing such as the UCP home in Randolph actually saves taxpayers a lot of money. The residents have very limited incomes. If each of them had to rent an apartment at $800 per month, it would cost $9,600 per person each year. That would be a total cost of $38,400; a cost that in many cases would fall on taxpayers. In many cases, there is an added cost for utilities and heating. By bringing four people together into one home, the shared living style greatly reduces the cost, benefiting taxpayers with a lower tax burden and the residents with a life-style that provides needed companionship and a sense of dignity that institutional living is often unable to offer.
Additional information about the UCP housing programs can be found on the Internet at http://www.ucpncsnj.org or by calling their Chester office at (909) 879-2243.