Housing

Our Residents

The adult men and women served by AAH vary greatly in intellect, skill and educational level as well as age and experience. They come from a variety of backgrounds as well as various family interactions. Their situations are unique. Each man and each woman has entered the mental health system at different times in their lives. However, each person has the ability and strength inside to become an independent, strong and contributing member of society; complete with friends and social interactions, employment, and a place to live they can call their own. By addressing each person as a distinctive individual, AAH can address their specific needs and circumstances and encourage their unique interests and talents in a manner that promotes their recovery.

What does AAH do?

Everybody deserves a place that they can call home.
We provide permanent supportive housing for people who are homeless and mentally ill.
We own and operate five licensed homes which house 20 men and women.
We also supervise three residents who are living in scattered site apartments.
We help with activities of daily living; basic financial literacy (budgeting, savings, and credit); cleaning and cooking; securing entitlements and benefits; coordination of healthcare and mental health services; social skills development; and transportation.
Our supportive services are designed to assist residents in reaching such goals as heightened independence, empowerment and personal achievement.

How was it started?

AAH was founded in 1989.
The program was the inspiration of a mental health services consumer who was homeless and wandered the streets of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.
It was his vision to create a predominately self-sufficient community for the homeless and persistently mentally ill of comfortable and inexpensive living quarters.
Today, his vision is a reality.

How do you know you are successful?

One example is, a former residents is now living on her own and serves as a powerful advocate as a member of our Board of Directors. Our residents demonstrate every day that they can live in the community with the appropriate supportive housing options. We have been successful in reducing hospitalizations and not one of our residents has returned to an institutional setting or the streets.

All are thriving. For example, in Teaneck – one of the five residents teaches ESL classes part-time at a local library while also pursuing a Masters Degree in Political Science at FDU. A second attends a day treatment program 5 days/week, a third resident is now working part-time as a janitor and also attending a day program part-time, and a fourth, who was chronically homeless, completed a substance abuse program and attends AA – 5 days a week. Our newest resident is also someone who was chronically homeless. He attends the Drop-In Center in Hackensack, is very active in his church and is actively looking for work.

Our success is saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. For example, one year of hospitalization at Greystone Psychiatric Hospital is $184,700 and $365,000 at Bergen Regional Medical Center. As experienced mental health professionals, they handle psychiatric and medical emergencies and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Approximately 20 - 25% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness. We get our funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Bergen County Division of Community Development; both of which have been dramatically reduced over the last couple of years.
The cost of the permanent/supportive housing provided by AAH is $20,000 per client/year.

What do you hope your residents will accomplish?

AAH residents vary greatly in intellect, skill and education level as well as age and experience. They come from a variety of backgrounds as well as various family interactions.

Each has entered the mental health system at different times in their lives. Their diagnoses range from chronic depression and bi-polar disorder to schizophrenia. Some have utilized alcohol and drugs as a tool for self-medication prior to psychiatric intervention and prescriptions. Others have turned to sex or crime as an outlet for their mental health symptoms.

However, it is our belief that each person has the ability and inner strength to learn to manage their mental illness and become an independent, strong and contributing member of society; complete with friends and social obligations and interactions, employment and a place to live they can call their own.

How are you staffed?

Our staff is small but extraordinary.

AAH is unique in that we are a consumer run organization.

The majority of our staff is Peer Counselors who are themselves consumers of mental health services and have been trained and certified. Their skill and supportive presence has therapeutic value as they are “one consumer helping another.”

Our Peer Counselors are supervised (individually and in a group) by our Housing Director, our Clinical Social Work Consultant, and Executive Director. As experienced mental health professionals, we handle psychiatric and medical emergencies and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Are you putting the public at risk?

No, our clients are not dangerous.

Our residents go through an interview and evaluation process.

We evaluate their stability in terms of medication, daily activities, social skills, behavior management, personal care skills, and overall readiness for more independent living.

We also look at their level of insight regarding their medication and willingness to continue the medication regimen after entrance into our supportive housing.

Most are homeless because they do not have the network of support they need.

So, we help families reconnect.

Is it possible to recover from a mental illness?

Mental disorders prevent people from carrying out essential aspects of daily life, such as self care, household management and interpersonal relationships.

Approximately 20 - 25% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.

Homeless people with mental disorders remain homeless for longer periods of time and have less contact with family and friends. They encounter more barriers to employment, tend to be in poorer physical health, and have more contact with the legal system than homeless people who do not suffer from mental disorder.

However, all people with mental disorders, including those who are homeless, can lessen the impairment and disruption produced by their condition with access to a full range of treatment and rehabilitation services.
Most people with mental illness do not need hospitalization, and even fewer require long-term institutional care.
It starts with hope. Hope that recovery is possible.

Are you satisfying the demand for your services?

No we are not.

We are working to open a total of 20 homes by 2020 – but even then, the need will outpace our supply.

How has the economy affected the agency?

Our residents are extremely low income so we depend on government and the generosity of our donors.
We get our funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Bergen County Division of Community Development and those government funds have been dramatically reduced over the last couple of years.

Our donors have been affected by the downturn in the economy – just like we all have. They continue to show their support for our work – but many can not be as generous as they had been.

But everyday – brings new opportunity and we are holding our own.

If you would like to know more about our work, please call (201) 664.1700.

Ours is a powerful message of hope for recovery.