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Ocean County Board of Social Services v. T.B.

November 19, 2007

OCEAN COUNTY BOARD OF SOCIAL SERVICES, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
T.B., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Director of the Division of Family Development, Department of Human Services, V909553.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 29, 2007

Before Judges Parrillo and Alvarez.

Appellant T.B. appeals from an August 1, 2006 final decision of the Director of the Division of Family Development (DFD) within the Department of Human Services (DHS) denying her application for an extension of Emergency Assistance (EA) benefits beyond the twelve-months allowed pursuant to N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.4. We affirm.

T.B., a single head of household who is permanently disabled and receives social security income (SSI), was also a recipient of benefits in the Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) program. The program is administered at the local level by county welfare agencies (CWA) in accordance with regulations and directives of the DFD, which is a part of DHS.

Among the benefits available to WFNJ recipients is EA.

N.J.S.A. 44:10-51; N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.1 to -6.10. The purpose of emergency assistance is to assist those beset by an emergency. See N.J.S.A. 44:10-51(a) ("[EA] shall be provided only to recipients of [WFNJ] and persons receiving [SSI] . . . in emergent situations, as determined by the commissioner . . . ."); N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.1(a) ("[EA is] a supportive service to meet the emergent needs of WFNJ recipients so that recipients shall not be prevented from complying with the work requirement due to disruptions caused by homelessness and related emergencies.").

"The [CWA] is authorized to provide [EA] . . . to meet emergency situations when there is no other source of support available[, for various items including] . . . emergency shelter and emergency temporary housing . . . ." N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.3(a).

EA grants for shelter assistance, including temporary rental assistance (TRA), are limited to individuals or families who are "in a state of homelessness or imminent homelessness due to circumstances beyond their control[,] or [where homelessness has occurred because of] the absence of a realistic capacity to plan in advance for substitute housing . . . ." N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.1(c). Even so, N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.6(a) makes [r]eceipt of [EA] . . . contingent upon the recipient's taking reasonable steps toward resolving the emergent situation. Reasonable steps shall include the recipient's . . . complying with and carrying out a plan for service; fulfilling the number of housing searches mutually agreed upon; and following agency recommendations related to resolving the emergent situation. Failure to substantially comply with the service plan will result in termination of EA.

Moreover, "[a]ny [EA] granted shall be limited to 12 cumulative months during the lifetime of the case . . . ."

N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.4(a); see also N.J.S.A. 44:10-51(a)(1) (providing EA for only "up to 12 cumulative months" unless there is "extreme hardship"). Any additional EA beyond the twelve months will only be granted when a "WFNJ or SSI recipient has taken all reasonable steps to resolve the emergent situation but the emergency nonetheless continues or a new emergency occurs, which causes extreme hardship to the family." N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.4(b).

Since 2005, T.B. had been receiving EA in the form of shelter assistance, administered and provided by the Ocean County Board of Social Services (OCBSS). On April 25, 2006, OCBSS notified T.B. that her EA would be terminated effective April 30, 2006 because she failed to comply with her social service plan, N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.6(a), and because she failed to show "extreme hardship" entitling her to EA beyond the allowable twelve-month maximum, N.J.A.C. 10:90-6.4, which would have been exhausted by April 30, 2006. On May 1, 2006, T.B. filed applications for an extension of EA and for long-term support, which ...


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