Affordable Care Act

Today, the United States Senate takes up action to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Make your voices heard by telephoning your Senator as I did this morning. So many people have been calling that you might have to leave a voicemail message.

The message I left was fairly straightforward and was limited to this one topic. My talking points were:

  • Stop the repeal, Senator.
  • The Affordable Care Act is not a catastrophe as the President-elect claims. It has given 20 million people dignity and an opportunity to live better lives.
  • I worked at a county welfare agency and government for forty-three years (recently retired). I’ve seen how some people have had to choose between buying food or going to the doctor or heating their home. Don’t make it harder for them.
  • I’ve spoken with countless people in my community who work more than one job just to make ends meet. Don’t make it harder for them.
  • You’ve been fixing the Social Security Act of 1935 for eight decades. You never once had to repeal that program. Fix ACA, don’t repeal it.

Call your Senator today. You can use the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected.

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Resisting Donald Trump

House Republicans were beaten back today in their efforts to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, an arm of Congress whose mission is to investigate corruption and unethical behavior. A storm of criticism reached Washington with hundreds of calls made to House members either directly or via the United States Capitol Switchboard, 202-224-3121.

New Jersey’s two Senators and twelve Representatives are:

You may want to capture these phone numbers for future action, whether it is to voice your concerns, send a message, or as a sign of protest. You deserve to be heard on matters that are important to you, whether it deals with Cabinet picks, environmental concerns, the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), civil rights/civil liberties, etc.

You can also access this list online by visiting the House Of Representatives
Directory of Representatives.

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NJ SHARES Night With The New Jersey Devils

Save the date… The next NJ SHARES Night with the New Jersey Devils is January 20, 2017. The New Jersey Devils will once again ‘Share the Warmth’ as they take the ice on Friday, January 20th at 7:30 pm against the Montreal Canadiens, by offering DISCOUNTED stadium tickets to our supporters with proceeds benefiting NJ SHARES! Come support NJ SHARES as the Community Assist Partner of the Night.

  • Group Seating at the Game
  • Discounted Group Ticket
  • Group Welcome on the Scoreboard
  • Group Gift for Everyone in Attendance

To Order Tickets, please visit: www.newjerseydevils.com/njshares17 – Promo Code: njshares17.

If you experience technical problems with the discount code or need printable tickets, please call Joshua Malakoff at 973-757-6162. Download the PDF for ticket pricing and details. Note: The promo code is not compatible with Internet Explorer, so please use other browsers such as Chrome or Firefox.

(For purposes of identification, the notice above appeared in the NJ SHARES newsletter.)

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Bridgeway Offers Housing Assistance to Chronically Homeless

Housing First Vouchers are available for individuals who are chronically homeless, living in Union County. Person must meet the below requirements to be considered for the voucher.

Person must be Chronically Homeless as defined by HUD:

  • Homeless for 12 months consecutively
  • Homeless on four different occasions in the last three years equaling twelve months or more

Person must have proof of one of the following disabilities:

  • A Serious Mental Illness
  • Diagnosable Substance Abuse Disorder
  • A Developmental Disability
  • A Chronic Physical Illness or Disability, including the co-occurrence of two or more of the above conditions

Please contact Bridgeway Homeless Outreach Counselor, Tisheka Allen for an Information and Referral Package. Phone: 908-289-7330 x101.

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Consumer Alert: Utilities Call Scam

The following press release was issued by the Federal Communication Commission’s Office of Media Relations:

CONSUMER ALERT: UTILITIES CALL SCAM
Beware of Callers Posing as Utility Employees Demanding Immediate Payment

WASHINGTON, November 15, 2016 – The Federal Communications Commission is alerting consumers to be on the lookout for callers pretending to be utility company employees demanding immediate payment, often by prepaid debit cards, credit cards, or gift cards. As American consumers prepare for winter months when many people would be endangered by an interruption to heating fuel, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau wanted to make consumers aware of this scam and prepared to protect themselves.

Key Consumer Tip: If consumers receive a call warning them of a balance they do not believe they owe their utility, they should hang up, independently look up their utility company’s phone number on a recent statement or legitimate website, and call that number to verify the legitimacy of the call.

In this scam, the caller typically poses as a representative of the consumer’s actual local utility, stating that immediate payment will ensure that the consumer’s heating service will not be disconnected. The scammers are known to spoof utility company telephone numbers so the caller ID makes it appear to be a call from the utility company. These scammers often use automated interactive voice response calling systems that mimic legitimate providers’ calls. After consumers, many of whom are older adults, follow instructions via interactive prompts, they are connected to a live “customer service representative” who asks for the access code for a credit, debit, or gift card. This information allows the scammer to cash out the card or sell it to a third party.

Anyone who believes they have been targeted by this scam should immediately report the incident to their actual utility company, to local police, to the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant and to the FCC’s Consumer Help Center.

Consumers should always be on alert for this scam and others. The following tips can help ward off unwanted calls and scams:

• Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail.
• If you are unclear if a caller is legitimate, hang up, look up the company’s phone number independently on your recent bill or their legitimate website, and contact them through an official number, web form or email address to see if they called you. By initiating the communication yourself, you can verify that the request for payment is legitimate
• If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify – and then target – live respondents.
• If you receive a scam call, write down the number and file a complaint with the FCC and other appropriate authorities so we can help identify and take appropriate action to help consumers targeted by illegal callers.
• Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service that allows subscribers to block unwanted calls. If not, encourage your provider to start offering a blocking service. You can also visit the FCC’s website on “Web Resources for Blocking Robocalls” for information and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help you reduce unwanted calls.
• Legitimate utility companies will not demand payment via gift cards.

As the agency that implements and enforces the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the FCC reviews all consumer complaints and will continue, when appropriate, to issue consumer alerts based on those complaints and other public information related to possible scams and frauds. This is part of a new, standing series of consumer alerts from the FCC in hopes of informing, protecting, and empowering consumers.

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Contact points for New Jersey utility companies include:
Atlantic City Electric; 800-642-3780
Elizabethtown Gas; 800-242-5830
Jersey Central Power & Light; 800-662-3115
New Jersey Natural Gas; 800-221-0051
Public Service Electric & Gas; 800-436-7734
Rockland Electric; 877-434-4100
South Jersey Gas; 888-766-9900
Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative; 973-875-5101
Vineland Municipal Electric Utility; 856-794-4021

Links to these utility companies can also be found on the New Jersey Community Resources website.

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Work First New Jersey: Programs and Supports

For those who did not read the series last month on welfare, this article summarizes a number of programs and support services available to TANF families in New Jersey. Listed below are a number of documents that were recently published by either the New Jersey Division of Family Development or created in partnership with other agencies. They attempt to provide a working knowledge of services and benefits available to families trying to leave the welfare system.

Information in the documents cover such topics as: employment disregards, the Supplemental Work Support program, the SAIF program, Post-TANF benefits, Transitional Child Care and the Career Advancement Voucher Program.

Follow the links to:

For purposes of clarification, I had the pleasure of collaborating with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless in creating the Post-TANF flyer and the Stuck…On Welfare? brochure, respectively. The WFNJ Handbook and the Support for Working Families brochure were published by the Division of Human Services.

For information on child care and other links visit the NJ Community Resources website.

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Violence Against Women

Several days ago the nation was shocked to hear the Republican nominee for President bragging about his behavior toward women. Terms such as ‘predatory’ and ‘sexual assault’ describe his words and actions. A way to end violence against women is to stand and work together, as it thrives when we are silent.

Very often women do not know where to turn to seek counseling or emergency shelter. Below are a listing of organizations in each of New Jersey’s twenty-one counties.

Legal Services of New Jersey has revised their publication, 80 pages, Domestic Violence: A Guide to the Legal Rights of Domestic Violence Victims In New Jersey. An important phone number is the Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-572-7233. However, in an emergency dial 911 for the police.

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