Two Group Homes Opening In Brick

Group home manager Danielle Burdi demonstrates the wheelchair-accessible van used for residents. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)
Group home manager Danielle Burdi demonstrates the wheelchair-accessible van used for residents. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – The first of two planned group homes has opened in the township, each with well thought-out space for residents who have special needs.

The homes will be run by Enable Homes, a nonprofit corporation operating for 30 years that specializes in affordable housing for the disabled.

Their Director of Residential Services Tom Lawson recently gave a tour of the new group home, located on Drum Point Road, and said it was the 20th such facility in central New Jersey.

Four men with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities were selected to live at the new facility. Two are ambulatory, two are in wheelchairs and range in age from their 30s to 60s, he said.

Two of the men come to the group home from nursing homes, one from a group home “the family was not happy with,” and the fourth man was living with family, Lawson said.

The group home is designed with the occupants’ needs in mind, he said. For example, the two back bedrooms have break-out doors in case the residents have to evacuate at night without having to transfer out of their wheeled hospital beds, and the two large bathrooms are fully handicapped accessible.

The group home will be made for residents with special needs. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)
The group home will be made for residents with special needs. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

Three shifts of three caregivers on each shift would work at the facility, and an LPN would be there around the clock, Lawson said.

The four men would each attend a community-based day program, Monday through Friday, that is provided by other agencies, he added.

During those hours there would be no staff at the home except for the group home manager Danielle Burdi, who makes medical appointments, schedules the staff, shops for medical and other supplies, and much more.

Enable Homes Chief Operating Officer Robyn Steinman said the residents for the group homes are selected by means of referrals by the NJ Department of Human Services/Division of Developmental Disabilities. They also get thousands of referrals from supporting agencies, she said.

“We receive a referral packet and then we assess the client/consumer who would fit a vacancy in any of our programs, and then we match the individual with staff,” Steinman said in a phone interview.

All services for the special needs residents is paid for by Medicaid. Depending on the needs of the individual, the cost is anywhere from $100 to $400 a day for each group home resident.

The clients also pay a percentage of their care from the personal income, such as from their s social security payment, Steinman said.

The organization has four kinds of group homes: behavioral, medical, autism spectrum, and one for people with medical disabilities.

“We have the expectation that the client/customer would age in place. We want them to have a home they can live in forever,” Steinman said.

The group home will be made for residents with special needs. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)
The group home will be made for residents with special needs. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

Enable Homes provides a wide range of services, which include residential, day, and in-home supports, servicing over 200 individuals with their families, she said.

In 2016, the township authorized the transfer of the two Brick properties from Homes Now Inc. (a nonprofit community development corporation that provides available housing) to Enable Homes, who constructed the group homes.

The homes count towards the township’s affordable housing obligation as a “scattered site” housing, and a deed restriction ensures that the homes would remain affordable housing for at least 30 years.

This year Enable Homes plans to open a total of four new group homes: one in Freehold, one in Branchburg, and a second group home in Brick on Herbertsville Road which will house four men with behavioral issues. The Herbertsville Road group home is near completion, Steinman said.

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Judy moved to Ocean County from New York City in 1988, and began her second career as a feature and news reporter in the mid-1990's. She has worked for Micromedia Publications since 2008, primarily reporting for The Toms River Times and The Brick Times. Judy has also worked for The Leader Review in Point Pleasant Beach, The Brick Communicator and The Asbury Park Press. Reach Judy by e-mail at Judysmestadnunn@gmail.com.