Regina declares, “I believe in more affordable housing and I think section 8 housing vouchers are the answer.” Without subsidized housing, Regina knows she would have become homeless. The Section 8 (Housing Choice) Voucher and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), both federally funded programs saved her from homelessness.
In the late 1990s, Regina rented a basement in a family’s home. Although she received welfare assistance, the support was only $210/month because her living situation was not considered an apartment since the apartment did not include a full bathroom. Regina worked but still could not afford housing without the welfare payment assistance.
Regina and her fiancé qualified to receive SSDI. But then she was not able to maintain stable employment. The assistance that she received from SSDI was not enough to afford her own housing in Beechwood at that time. She remembers asking her fiancé, “Do we want lights, or do we eat, or do we pay the rent?” They had to make many difficult choices.
Regina went to a self-help center to receive assistance and was linked to Collaborative Supportive Programs (CSPNJ). CSPNJ hired Regina part-time and eventually promoted her to full-time employment. Although she was employed, their housing that she and her fiancé could afford was substandard. They did not feel safe in their neighborhood and they moved to Freehold to be closer to the CSPNJ office.
Regina and her fiancé lived in Freehold for a while until her fiancé received a Section 8 voucher. With the assistance of a Section 8 (Housing Choice) voucher, they were able to move to Brick where they have lived since 2003. Their home in Brick is clean and comfortable.
Regina is receiving SSDI again while still working for CSPNJ. The SSDI payments help them with their rent and other expenses. CSPNJ gave Regina a stipend towards earning her college degree although her tuition was paid through financial aid. CSPNJ paid for Regina to receive training to be certified by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Certified and receive her Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) Certification.
Explains Regina, “We need more supportive housing for people coming out of hospitals, they don’t know how to take care of themselves anymore.” Regina believes that those in recovery from health issues need extra support.
Regina wants her elected officials including Congressman MacArthur to invest in affordable housing and pay more attention to mental health issues, as they are very intertwined.
Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, Inc. (CSPNJ) is a peer led not-for-profit organization. CSPNJ provides flexible community-based services that promote responsibility, recovery and wellness through the provision of community wellness centers, supportive and respite housing, human rights advocacy, and educational and innovative programs.