Eden Autism opens 30th group home in Cranbury

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Three more individuals with autism are able to live semi-independently in one of Eden’s newest group homes thanks to a partnership between Eden Autism and Cranbury Housing Associates (CHA).

Eden Autism opened its 30th residence in Cranbury last month. CHA, a volunteer nonprofit organization composed of township residents who effectively develop and manage high quality, affordable housing in Cranbury, worked with Eden to develop and renovate the home, according to information provided by Eden Autism.

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“The opening of our residence in Cranbury is the product of a lot of hard work and dedication by our friends and neighbors in Cranbury,” Eden Autism President and CEO Michael Decker said in the statement. “We are extremely grateful for CHAs’ shared commitment to supporting adults with autism in their desire to live as independently as possible in a beautiful home and neighborhood.”

Mark Berkowsky, Eden Autism Board of Trustees chairman and CHA president, knew the property would be a perfect fit for a group home, according to the statement. He worked with CHA, Cranbury Township and Eden Autism leadership to plan, develop and renovate the home.

“It’s a public-private, nonprofit partnership between the township, CHA, and Eden,” he said in the statement. “Everyone came together to create this home.”

The house underwent a full renovation to ensure it would properly accommodate individuals with autism, according to the statement. New heating and plumbing systems were installed, along with a handicap bathroom and fully accessible kitchen. Work also included new windows, siding, and roofing, as well as interior finishes.

“It really takes a community working together to develop a home,” Gia Gore, director of Real Estate, said in the statement. “We wouldn’t be as successful as we are if we didn’t have our community member and board President Mark Berkowsky; board member Frank Piazza; Rachel Tait, chief program officer; Edyta Zak-Burns, director of Residential Services; John Gennuso, Facilities manager; and the Facilities Team working together with me to ensure all of our residents’ needs are met.”

As of 2020, CHA developed 129 units of new affordable housing. The organization continues to manage the rental and sale of past projects and short- and long-term maintenance of the properties.

“We know it’s extremely important to provide the housing opportunity, but the fact that it’s private-public partnership seems to be happening all over New Jersey, driven in part by affordable housing requirements as well as the need for housing for our participants,” Berkowsky said in the statement. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Matthew Connolly, manager of Residential Services, said it was a smooth transition for the three men, and they all adjusted very quickly to their new home, according to the statement.

For Gore and the entire facilities and program teams, the feeling of opening a new home for the individuals Eden supports never gets old.

”Whenever a new home opens, no matter how many times you’ve done it, it always feels like Christmas morning. It’s a feeling that never gets old,” Gore said in the statement.

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