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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Bergen County Division of Senior Services ADRC

Learn how this New Jersey AAA implemented a housing navigator program that connects older adults, caregivers and people with disabilities to accessible and affordable housing.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2020 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on the Bergen County Division of Senior Services' Bergen County Housing Navigator program. The agency was a 2020 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Housing category. The 2020 AIA Awards were made possible thanks to the support of Centene.
 
In one of the most expensive counties in the nation for housing, the Bergen County Housing Navigator program connects older adults, caregivers and people with disabilities to accessible, affordable housing. Based within the Information & Assistance Unit of the Bergen County Division of Senior Services (the AAA), the program creates a seamless link from the “front door” of their Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) to accurate, timely information on housing.
 
The Navigator tracks subsidized housing listings, creates a “Navigator Notes” email newsletter with information on available housing options and articles on housing issues, and provides technical support to all providers within the ADRC network. Additionally, the Navigator serves as a liaison to the homeless services network, providing resources to at-risk older adults and assisting them as they transition from homelessness to permanent housing.
 
Since the program began, the number of housing-related contacts has increased 60 percent and the Information & Assistance Unit has had more than 1,400 one-on-one interactions. Affordable housing property managers have requested the Navigator's assistance in conducting outreach to hard-to-reach populations.
 
The Housing Navigator program continues to operate at full capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has seen an increase in calls from older adults who are experiencing a financial impact as a result of the pandemic and are worried about eviction or foreclosure, so staff have continued to help older adults understand their housing rights, provided timely updates on changes to state and federal eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, and directed older adults to local agencies who can help with their legal and financial needs. 
 
This program is easily replicable within a AAA's Information & Referral/Assistance or equivalent program.
 
Read more about Bergen County Division of Senior Services' Housing Navigator program in Age-Friendly Times (Teaneck, NJ). Questions? Contact Lorraine Joewono, ljoewono@co.bergen.nj.us.
 
For more information about the 2020 winners, see the press release and read the book of winners! To read about past winners and find other best practices for your agency to consider, visit our Best Practices Clearinghouse page.

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