Housing not part of Epiphany’s mission

(Asbury Park Press, January 1, 2012) While we all feel for the plight of those struggling with addiction, I think it important to clarify the larger context of New Hope’s involvement with Epiphany House. I served on the New Hope Foundation Board of Trustees for 21 years and at times as treasurer, secretary, and chairman of the board; I retired in 2011. I was chairman in 2009 when Epiphany’s board chair approached me to discuss how New Hope might help them bridge a financial crisis that was bringing the organization to near bankruptcy. Epiphany’s crisis emerged over time as a result of a real estate venture that did not work out and management turnover that resulted in the loss of significant funding streams supporting the many services that the organization delivers and still delivers to this day. The bottom line is that Epiphany House would not be in business and not serving women and children at all if it were not for New Hope’s interventions.

When last I looked New Hope Foundation was providing addiction treatment services to roughly 4,000 people a year and I believe that it remains the most contracted with organization of its type in the state of New Jersey. Many of the treatment stays and services delivered are below cost and the Foundation provides free services in an amount exceeding $1/2 million annually. I know; I struggled with the finances.

Under the Epiphany House mission, the apartments were targeted to provide transitional housing to those completing halfway house services and never intended to provide permanent, subsidized housing. Epiphany was never funded to provide subsidized housing and it does not seem to make sense that it should place its core halfway house services at risk by duplicating government programs that serve this purpose. The fact that many of the residents in the apartments remain from the time I served on the board suggests that, while they are well beyond a transitional stay, New Hope has absorbed the cost and not put them out. I’m sure that putting anyone out on the street is still not on the Foundation’s agenda, and confident that self sufficiency for the women involved is.

Dr. Comerford’s salary was reviewed under my Chairmanship in 2009 and an adjustment was made after we surveyed the compensation of his counterparts across the state. Even with the adjustment Dr. Comerford remained the lowest paid of all of his counterparts and I suspect he remains in that position. I should also say that as an organizational psychologist and licensed practicing psychologist, he is also likely the most qualified of his counterparts.

Last, I looked at the most recent financials publicly available and New Hope Foundation continues to be a best donation value with .93 of every dollar donated going directly to the delivery of services. Please join with me in supporting the work of both New Hope and Epiphany; organizations known across the state for their good work and integrity.

Ronald S. Hari

Former Chairman of the New Hope Foundation Board of Trustees

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