FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2007

CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia
Communications Director
Union County Office of Public Information
Office: 908-527-4419
Cell: 908-770-3662

 

NEW RAMPS TO BENEFIT DISABLED
Union County selected to host pilot program improving access to homes and apartments.

Elizabeth – Union County is the site of a new pilot project to retrofit dwellings for disabled access. The program is intended to improve educational and career opportunities for disabled County residents who have difficulty entering and exiting their homes or apartments.

“Union County is one of only two counties statewide that were selected to participate in this pilot project, and there is a good reason for that,” said Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski. “We have worked very hard to be an efficient, effective provider of vital services to County residents in need. We’re very pleased that our efforts can set the standard for similar programs throughout New Jersey.”

The pilot, called the Modular Ramp and Long-Tread, Low-Riser Step Program, is administered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services. Funding is provided by the Henry H. Kessler Foundation, a New Jersey-based philanthropy that supports programs enabling disabled persons to achieve their fullest potential.

“This program invests a relatively small sum to help more disabled individuals stay out of expensive institutional settings and lead active, productive lives in their communities,” said Chairwoman Kowalski. “That savings is enormous, but far more important is the social benefit of dignity and independence for our neighbors, friends, and family members.”

The modular design of the ramps and long-tread, low-riser steps allows the components to be manufactured off-site, transported to the individual’s home and then assembled, resulting in significant savings on construction and installation costs.
“The recycling component of this program also represents a cost efficiency,” Chairwoman Kowalski noted. “When a module is no longer needed at its original location, it will be removed and reused elsewhere.”

Low-riser steps are included in the program for individuals who use crutches, walkers or canes.  In some cases the steps provide a safe alternative to ramps, and they take up less space.

To be eligible for the program, disabled individuals must currently reside in Union County; be a New Jersey resident for at least six months; live in a primary residence that is not currently accessible; be at least 16 years of age; and have liquid assets of less than $100,000.

Because the program is designed to improve educational and career opportunities, applicants must be either employed, seeking employment outside the home, attending traditional or vocational school, or volunteering for the purpose of obtaining future employment.

For more information, to determine eligibility, or to obtain an application, call the Union County Office for the Disabled at 908-527-4807.