April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Bayit Association Partners With Ohel

Bayit kicks off $3+ million capital campaign.

It gives me great pride and pleasure to announce that as of this past Tuesday, November 1, The Bayit Association will be partnering with Ohel as we move closer to opening our first residences in the Northern New Jersey area. On Tuesday, my Bayit co-founders, Adam Chill and Bassie Taubes, and I stood together with Ohel’s CEO David Mandel, COO Adam Lancer and Ohel board vice president Annette Rubin outside of the first Bayit residence currently under construction in Teaneck, and publicly signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that spells out our partnership in detail.

The signing ceremony was quite emotion-filled for all of us, as we moved one more step closer to the opening to the first of what we hope and believe will be many such residences in the Northern New Jersey area for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. My co-founders and I are excited to work with an established communal not-for-profit agency such as Ohel, which has been operating residential and nonresidential services for children and adults in New York State since 1969, and, most importantly, was recently licensed to operate in the State of New Jersey as well.

How did we get here? Allow me to go back a bit. After I announced the launch of The Bayit Association on this paper’s cover six months ago, my co-founders and I were inundated with countless messages from individuals and families who wanted to help us succeed. The reaction we received was quite incredible. So many people contacted us to ask how they could help or volunteer, or to let us know about their professional skills and background to see if they could work with The Bayit. Many just offered chizuk and of course, we received some donations as well.

We did our best to respond to everyone, to thank everyone, to file away resumes and offers, and to keep many in mind for the future. On behalf of The Bayit, I say thank you publicly to all those who reached out to us, and to ask for forbearance and forgiveness if any of you felt that we were not able to assist you or did not follow up as fully or as positively as you may have wanted.

At the same time, we also received dozens of inquiries from parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all ages who were looking to us to ensure that their dream of finding a permanent, loving, secure Jewish home for their child with special needs would be realized. We saw quite quickly that we would need help and assistance with the next steps for The Bayit.

Before we took our next steps, we knew that we absolutely must have a compelling answer to the very big question of: Who would be running our homes? Who would be choosing among the literally dozens of adults who are eligible and in need in our communities? How would we choose?

While we have learned a tremendous amount over the past two years in this field, and we learned a lot about raising our children with special needs, we have never run group homes or worked with Medicaid or learned many of the myriad tasks and skills one needs to operate housing. Although we could certainly teach ourselves these skills and adapt and hire on the fly, we felt strongly that this would not be the best approach for us and the many we wanted to help. We resolved that we needed to find a strong and reliable partner with experience in this field.

Ohel’s CEO David Mandel first reached out to us several months ago to let us know that they wanted to work with The Bayit. Ohel informed us that they were in the process of obtaining the necessary governmental approvals in New Jersey but they were not yet fully licensed to operate in
New Jersey. We recommended a firm for them to work with to help on the licensing and government side, but we weren’t sure when we would hear back from them.

However, from that first conversation and onwards, Ohel’s team of senior and program staff went out of their way to make it crystal clear that helping us succeed was a critical and top priority for them. We asked many hard questions about the types of homes we wanted to run, about Ohel’s current homes, about the kind of staff and managers we wanted to have working for us, and more. And with every question and concern we raised—and we had many—Ohel’s answers were thought-out, clear, transparent, positive and comprehensive. Over a few months of regular interactions, meetings, calls, and many emails and texts, we came to believe that Ohel would be the right partner for our initial homes. We decided slowly yet surely that with its experienced staff, resources, and skills, Ohel would be the right organization to help us operate our homes and achieve many of our goals and dreams for our community’s adult children with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Once we decided this in the early summer, and also learned that Ohel had received the go-ahead from New Jersey by obtaining a license, we began work on a formal agreement that clarified how we were going to work together.

To sum up the agreement quickly, The Bayit and Ohel will work together as full partners to open and operate our first homes. More specifically, The Bayit will remain a separate organization but will rely upon Ohel for advice and guidance on all aspects of the renovations and construction of our homes, for staffing and overseeing the homes once open, for working with New Jersey’s Division of Developmental Disabilities and other regulators directly, and for interviewing and selecting the individuals who will be living in these homes. Once a home opens, Ohel will assume full operational responsibility. The Bayit will continue to look for additional housing opportunities in the Northern New Jersey area and actively fundraise for the current homes we own, as well as future homes, in coordination and collaboration with Ohel. Ohel will additionally work on developing residential programs and nonresidential programs throughout the State of New Jersey in coming years.

For Parents—A major part of our agreement was that Ohel staff would begin meeting immediately with individuals with disabilities and their families to begin evaluating and discussing residential and nonresidential services that could be provided. To that end, we would like to announce that we will be holding a public meeting for parents interested in learning more about our partnership on Sunday evening, December 4 at 7 p.m. in Teaneck at Congregation Zichron Mordechai (268 West Englewood Ave). We will also be advertising the event in this paper in the coming weeks.

To learn more about the upcoming December 4 event and/or to ask other questions of Ohel staff regarding housing and eligibility for your child, Ohel has also set up a special email address for prospective New Jersey families: [email protected].

Announcing a $3 Million Capital Campaign

I would also like to use this space to announce that, now that we have a full partner on the operating side, we are launching a $3 million capital campaign to finish paying for and renovating the first two homes in Teaneck. We estimate that the final costs for each home (including both purchasing, repaying the purchase loans we took out, and the extensive, major renovations that group homes require) will be about $1.5 million per house. This includes the purchase price of approximately $600,000 or so per home and about $800,000-900,000 to do a full renovation for each house. These numbers are based on real estimates we have already in-hand and information that other group home/residential housing agencies, including Ohel, have provided for us.

We are looking for donors at all levels, for donors who might be interested in helping to sponsor the full or partial cost of our homes, or donors who may even be willing to donate or purchase homes on our behalf. Naming opportunities are available, and my fellow board members and I will be happy to speak or meet anytime. Donations of any level are certainly welcome. If you would like to inquire further, please reach out to me at my Jewish Link email address: [email protected]

Last but not least, we want to say thank you, and yashar koach to all of our early donors and supporters for providing us with the seed capital to start us along this path, and for believing in us and supporting us when we were just learning how much we didn’t yet know about housing in the State of New Jersey. We have come a long way since, and have a long way to go still, but we will never forget your early help. Thank you as well to the donors who stepped forward after we went public six months ago. We look forward to making you proud as we move toward the first home opening in 2023.

By Moshe Kinderlehrer


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