It looks like Jenny Romero and her daughter Isabella will be able to stay in their beloved hometowns of Maplewood and South Orange.
Born with cerebral palsy, the wheelchair-bound Romero lost a significant amount of her disability funding last year due to budget cuts from the state. This “has unfortunately affected my housing situation,” wrote Romero on Swap SOMA Lounge in October 2016. “As a result, I am being forced to move out of my apartment and find new housing for myself and my family.”
Romero, a single mom and a 16-year resident of Maplewood, desperately wanted to remain in South Orange-Maplewood because it’s “a great place to raise my daughter — the outstanding schools, parks and people make this town a wonderful place to live. Most of all, it is wheelchair accessible allowing me to move about freely and live a normal, enjoyable and peaceful quality of life…something that has been difficult to find elsewhere.”
However, finding an wheelchair-accessible 2-bedroom apartment at or below $1,300/month was proving difficult, if not impossible, in the current hot real estate market and with very long wait lists for affordable housing in both towns.
Through the help of community members like her friends Deanna Taylor-Heacock and Maddy Shaw, Romero was able to find interim housing and support.
And, now, through the help of an anonymous benefactor Romero has found a permanent solution to her housing crisis.
“Maddy [Shaw] and I have been friends with Jenny for a couple of years and have been helping her try to find a place suitable for her and Isabella,” wrote Taylor-Heacock in an email to Village Green. “We decided to do that fundraiser along with Luke [Finn] from Coda. This was the mom’s brunch on the first day of school…. We knew this wouldn’t give her enough money to stay in SOMA but we hoped it would get the word out about her housing situation and hopefully open some doors for her.”
“Well it certainly did,” Taylor-Heacock continued. “We were contacted by someone who offered her an amazing apartment perfect for her and Isabella. This person would like to remain anonymous. The focus really is that this is such an amazing community and Jenny and Isabella can stay here in the town they love.”
Since Romero will now be moving away from her parents, she will also need to furnish the new apartment, which she will take occupancy of on December 1. “Jenny has an Amazon wish list for the things she needs and Maddy secured $1,000 from Kate Elliott of The Kate Elliott Team at Coldwell Banker and Kasdan Construction and Management that will go towards the funds she needs but we are still short by $2,000,” wrote Taylor-Heacock.