Maplewood and South Orange’s real estate fortunes have risen in recent decades, but the surge in home prices and apartment rents — combined with certain cuts in state aid — may be causing headaches for residents at the margins.
Take Jenny Romero.
Jenny has been a Maplewood resident for more than 15 years but is facing the prospect of having to leave town at the end of December.
Born with cerebral palsy, the wheelchair-bound Romero recently lost a significant amount of her disability funding due to budget cuts from the state. This “has unfortunately affected my housing situation,” wrote Romero on Swap SOMA Lounge. “As a result, I am being forced to move out of my apartment and find new housing for myself and my family by the end of December.”
Romero is looking for a two-bedroom apartment for up to $1,600 that she can share with her daughter and her parents — who moved in with her four years ago to help her raise her daughter and pay rent.
Romero, a single mom, desperately wants to remain in Maplewood because she has found it to be “a great place to raise my 4-year-old 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.”
Romero has been working with Maplewood Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams as well as Rev. Brenda Ehlers at Morrow United Methodist Church (Morrow Preschool is providing tuition aid for Jenny’s daughter).
This summer, Adams did some leg work to see what public resources beyond the municipal level could be available to Romero but ran into dead ends. Additionally, Adams noted, the waitlist for affordable housing units in Maplewood is quite long.
“It’s a commitment of mine and my colleagues on the Township Committee to do whatever we can to try to help our residents,” Adams told Village Green in August. “While we haven’t been able to find any low income housing available to help Jenny yet, we hope to be able to find something. I also think this might be an excellent project for crowdfunding, like gofundme. I am hoping to discuss that with Jenny and look into that as well if only to help her stay in her current home longer until she can find what she’s looking for.”
Those with information about an affordable rent in town can contact Romero here.
Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams can be reached here.
Rev. Brenda Ehlers can be reached here.
For her part, Romero is grateful in advance. “Thanks for your support,” she writes.