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Hillsborough Group Home Part of Statewide Effort

Residents dubious of SERV Achievement Center's proposed group home to serve autistic residents.

If approved by the Planning Board, a Sherwood Close residence will become home to four low-functioning autistic residents some of whom are currently living in one of the state development centers slated for closing.

The home, planned by Ewing-based SERV Achievement Centers, is part of a move by the administration of Gov. Chris Christie to close the centers and move those living in them into smaller group homes, where treatment is more individualized.

According to Keith Hamilton, SERV's vice-president of community relations, about 2,700 individuals in the state centers will be placed in group homes in the coming years.

"If you divide that by four, that's how many group homes you need," Hamilton said.

The Hillsborough project encountered questioning neighbors, some of whom attended the Township Committee's Dec. 11 meeting to express their concerns about the home—sometimes echoing the concerns of residents who lived near the proposed drug rehabilitation center on Route 206 (which has been withdrawn).  

The residents asked about the safety of neighbors, and the possibility of residents coming and going, but Hamilton stressed the residents, as people with a form of developmental disability and not an illness, tend not to be very mobile. 

"Most people who are developmentally disabled tend to be disabled their entire lives, so we have some people with us for very long times," he told the residents at the meeting.

He stressed the residents are not mentally ill, but developmentally disabled. When asked about residents who may be bi-polar, schizophrenic or depressed, he said, "These are diseases of the mental health types—these folks would not be in our program."

Also, Township Committeeman Frank DelCore pointed out the Planning Board approval only authorizes developmentally disabled residents.

In an interview after the meeting, Hamilton said the facility will be licensed wtih the state's Department of Developmental Disabilities, so only residents with such disabilities will be permitted. 

In part, the group home is aimed at helping to alleviate the growing population of autistic adults, people unable to function independently but too old for schools or other existing facilities.

Hamilton said nearly 2,000 developmentally disabled people in New Jersey are on waiting lists for care, in addition to those in the centers. 

The Hillsborough home could accept residents from among the 600 autistic residents at the state centers, such as the Green Brook Regional Center, as well as from the local population of people on the waiting lists.

"We'll look for folks who live in Somerset County first," Hamiliton said.

Dan Lauber January 04, 2013 at 05:50 PM
If anybody wants to see actual facts about the impact of these community residences for people with disabilities and understand how the nation's Fair Housing Act limits local regulation of these home (they are NOT "facilities"), visit http://www.planningcommunications.com and click on the "Group Homes and Fair Housing" button.
Truthsayer January 08, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Keith Hamilton of SERV is not being truthful when he states the autistic residents are not mentally ill. Many of these residents are dual diagnosis which includes mental illness and substance abuse. Trinitas Hospital in New Jersey treats many of these residents with these diagnoses. . Most of these residents do not live with their family because the family cannot handle them. Many of them are also violent and will not comply with treatment. My concerns for the safety of Hillsborough remain the same as for Gen Psych. I will make it my business to be at the next meeting .
sammy January 08, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Truthsayer, we are so much better off due to your vigilance. Thank you. BTW, lets hope it never has to be your decission to figure out how to deal with this growing population. Maybe you should do some homework before continuing on your crudade of demonstrating how small minded people go thru life. Do you know how many of these homes now exist in your town. Here comes the boogie man.
Truthsayer January 09, 2013 at 02:27 AM
sammy, I guess you go through life insulting others when you don't agree with their opinions. What was presented by SERV was disingenuous and my concern is the safety of Hillsborough . I will remain vigilant , you can remain a fool.
sammy January 09, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Vigilant ? Fool? I accept both from you. I have come to accept the existence of people like you , NIMBY's, preying on fears in the name of "safety". While i act the role of a fool, its honest work. However , i always wonder if you and your kind take any time to reflect and actually are honest with the image staring back from your mirror. Wake up , we already have group homes in town, Annie get your gun, the scary people are already here. LMAO
S.G. January 09, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Your comment "...Most of these residents do not live with their family because the family cannot handle them.." reminded me of friends of my parents who had a daughter with Down's syndrome. As they reached their 80s and their daughter turned 60 they realized that they were increasingly too frail to handle her and were unable to find a group home with an opening staffed by people trained to help their daughter. They did not know what would happen to her when they died. Her name was Meghan. Is she one of the people that you don't want in Hillsborough?
Truthsayer January 09, 2013 at 06:29 PM
share your knowledge.. please what is the name and location of these group homes in Hillsborough?
S.G. January 09, 2013 at 07:05 PM
I am personally familiar with two of the group homes. I always knew about one of them. The other one I didn't even know was there for years until one day I was at a friend's house. His dog strayed into a neighbors' yard and as he called her back he commented that he didn't want to bother the nice people next door... a group home. Tell you the location? For what purpose?
Truthsayer January 10, 2013 at 01:17 AM
S. G. ,Are the homes you are familiar with licensed group homes or boarding homes ? How many people live in these homes and what type of supervision is rendered to this population. Are you certain of that the population in these are strictly DD?
S.G. January 10, 2013 at 01:43 PM
The two in my area are licensed group homes. Based on State regulations and the size of the homes (number of bedrooms), I am guessing about 4-to-6 residents plus maybe one live-in staff. Supervision? When someone stops into one of these homes how do I tell if they are a visiting family member (as you would see at anyone's home) or staff? Unless they have State Government plates...or are the small transport buses or vans used to go to work or for group outings...or have nursing services logos...? I am not sure how I would diagnose if the population is disabled or not. It is apparent that you can't.
sammy January 10, 2013 at 03:45 PM
S.G. , Thank you. I feel your pain. You're trying to be a good guy and help this truthslayer person, but to no avail. He/She is purely a NIMBY and could care less what is in this town as long as its not in their backyard. A lttle person with a little mind and lives in a world self created that knows only fear, hate and self important - declaring themselves to be truthsayers. HA!
Truthsayer January 11, 2013 at 01:40 AM
I think I have spent enough time feeding the trolls
sammy January 11, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Typical response from a bully. Pure and simple. Clownish , but a bully nonetheless
S.G. January 11, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Sammy, a truly confusing comment...but there was only one troll here and he has apparently left. In the end it may be a good thing as years ago I remember hearing about there being 12-14 group homes in Hillsborough which would only upset truth.
DoogieRN April 02, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Life next to 2 group homes: Some may choose to call me a NIMBY and discard my post but as someone who purchased a large home in the country, I did NOT sign up to live in a compound. I live in a farming community and my only 2 neighbors sold out to a for-profit group home company. The residents have not been the problem unless the sounds of crying, screaming and being cursed at by the ever changing employrees bother you or your young children. Single family homes are also no stranger to 30-40-50 vehicles coming and going 24 hours a day. Some are staff members, some are visitors of the clients but staff also recieve there share of visitations. Employees yelling back and forth between homes, cars, yards and using foul and abusive language. Then there is the ever present construction as the homes are enlarged for further profits. Don't believe the "you will rarely see them because they go to a program during the day" lies as there is ALWAYS vehicles coming and going 24/7. My family has also witnessed residents running down the state highway as well as a staff member riding ON TOP of a SUV. We are not sure what tobacco product smells like skunk urine but it can be found coming from the "speciality group homes next to and behind me
DoogieRN April 02, 2013 at 05:38 PM
I agree that people need a place to live and I'm sympathetic to the need but with low pay and little if any supervision and lack of oversite by the governmernt, you get what you pay for. Ask youself this "Do I want my family member's health and safety entrusted to the LOWEST bidder?" To those who call us NIMBYS, Walk an acre in my shoes and experience life in the compond that surrounds my family.

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