Healing Homes Initiative Expands

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, is now accepting applications for its Healing Homes initiative which offers transitional housing for Somerset County individuals or families who have an illness that caused financial hardship and are unable to afford housing.

As part of RWJBarnabas Health’s Social Impact and Community Investment Initiative, the hospital launched Healing Homes in 2019 with one home in Somerville and helped a family transition to permanent housing in 2021. A second home in Somerville is currently being renovated by the hospital for Healing Homes and will be available in the spring. The application deadline is Feb. 25.

“We recognize that there are many social and economic factors that contribute to an individual’s overall health outcomes, including having a place to live,” said Tony Cava, president and chief executive officer, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. “Healing Homes helps address a critical need in our community as many of our neighbors who have an illness may face financial challenges during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic including needing housing.”

With the help of an assigned case manager, Healing Homes gives an individual or family the opportunity to learn to manage their finances, take care of their health and become more independent. The case manager will refer Healing Homes participants to resources that are designed to help with their individually identified health issues as well as community resources that offer support for basic needs such as employment, transportation, social services, and permanent housing.

The hospital’s two Healing Homes are two-bedroom ranch homes. One home is handicapped accessible. Each home is available to a single individual or a single family of no more than four.

To be considered for Healing Homes, participants must meet specific criteria for consideration, such as: have an illness that has caused financial hardship and makes them unable to afford housing and /or basic cost of living; have limited access to health care; are employed with a steady income but earn below the New Jersey Housing and Urban Development (HUD) income guidelines. Additionally, participants in Healing Homes must demonstrate a willingness to achieve the goals identified by the case manager in their individual progress plan to improve their circumstances.

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, South Bound Brook, North Plainfield, Somerset, Franklin and Manville).

“Our goal is to help participants in Healing Homes learn to manage both their finances and their health and ultimately become more self-sufficient,” said Serena Collado, Director of the Community Health Department at RWJUH Somerset which oversees Healing Homes. “With the addition of a second Healing Home, we are excited to expand this opportunity to an additional individual or family as part of our overall efforts to improve the health of our community.”

RWJUH Somerset’s Healing Homes initiative is guided by a committee that includes representatives from the following organizations: Affinity Federal Credit Union, Bonnie Brae, Central Jersey Housing Resource Center, Pioneer Family Success Center, Greater Raritan Workforce Development Board, Habitat for Humanity, Safe and Sound, Somerset County Board of Social Services, Somerset County Community Development, Somerset County Health Department and Housing Authority, Somerset County Human Services, United Way’s Alice Project of Northern New Jersey and Zarephath Christian Church.

For more information about Healing Homes and an application, please visit www.rwjbh.org/somersethealinghomes or call RWJUH Somerset’s Community Health Department at (908) 685-2814.