New Houghtaling Bill Creates Resources Hotline for New Jerseyans with Disabilities

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling has introduced new legislation that would require the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, in conjunction with State Centers for Independent Living to establish a telephone hotline available, at a minimum, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. through which information and referral services will be provided to people with disabilities.

Centers for Independent Living are community-based, consumer-driven organizations that provide information and referral, peer counseling, skills training, advocacy and a variety of services based on individual needs.

Under the bill (A4202), this hotline would provide similar services and resources to the NJ-2-1-1 general assistance hotline, but with additional provisions and training provided to operators to assist callers with disabilities with their unique needs and challenges.

“The current crisis has revealed a lot of the unique challenges that New Jerseyans with disabilities face when they’re trying to get help or resources,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “Our state’s general hotline does a great job when it comes to assisting the general public, but members of our disability community often have unique needs and challenges, and can often get lost in the system. That’s especially true for residents who have disabilities related to speech or communication, or who may be limited in their ability to access state resources through traditional means. The Centers for Independent Living have a wealth of experience in helping our disability community live independently and stay afloat through trying times, and this hotline would greatly expand our ability to support this often-underserved community.”

"New Jersey's 11 Centers for Independent Living are staffed by people with disabilities and assist New Jerseyans of all ages and disabilities," said Carole Tonks, Executive Director of the Alliance Center for Independence in Edison.  "Our Centers have a long history with and extensive knowledge of emergency preparedness, as well as strong connections to our local Offices of Emergency Management. This hotline will be vital in connecting disabled individuals and their families to resources, and we thank Assemblyman Houghtaling for sponsoring this important legislation."

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