Empowering individuals

We thought this article about Advance Housing and Sussex County might be of interest.

Empowering individuals, By BILL WICHERT Herald Staff Writer

SPARTA – Jeff Hulme takes a lot of pride in the shrubs he has planted outside his Tamarack Road home. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Hulme left a small house in Highland Lakes six years ago because he could not afford living there, and started staying at rooming houses around the area, sometimes sleeping with one eye open out of fear of his neighbors. A smoke alarm woke up Hulme in the middle of the night in January, when a fire at the Andover Inn on Route 206 destroyed everything Hulme owned. He moved in with his father temporarily, but he had no idea where to turn next.That’s when a social worker told him about an organization called Advance Housing, and less than a year later, Hulme now has a front lawn and a nearby lake to fish in.

“It’s just nice to have a place you can call home,” said Hulme, sitting in his living room on Monday. “When I wake up in the morning, I smile. It’s going to be a good day.” As part of a growing trend in the housing options available to individuals with mental illness, Hulme is one of 17 Sussex County residents living independently in homes and apartments managed by Advance Housing, while also receiving a range of services to meet their individual needs, including counseling, job training and transportation to shop for groceries or Christmas presents.Acquiring homes in residential neighborhoods and rehabilitating them, Advance Housing aims to provide permanent, lease-based housing for homeless adults living with a mental illness. Most people are referred to the organization by social service providers and homeless shelters. “If it wasn’t for Advance, I don’t know where I’d be,” Hulme said. “I don’t know. I might be on the street somewhere.”

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