Did you know that the minimum wage in New Jersey is still $5.15 an hour or $10,712/year?

That when the minimum wage goes to $6.15 an hour it will be $12,792 per year?

That a one-bedroom apartment in Princeton is about $1,000/month or $12,000/year?

That a worker earning minimum wage would have to work 149 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Princeton?

That full-time workers at Princeton Township and Borough and at Princeton University can earn as little as $20,000 to $23,000 a year and that workers at the Medical Center can start at $17,600?

Affordable housing for Princetonians must be a priority in our community! Will the new round of COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) regulations help create this housing? How can we be sure? Are there some creative solutions to our affordable housing crisis?

On Wednesday, April 13, at 6:45 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room, Princeton Community Housing and the Princeton Area League of Women Voters will present a forum to explore the new COAH regulations and what they mean for our town.

We’ll be listening to and questioning experts Douglas Massey and David Kinsey of the Woodrow Wilson School, Ellen Ritchie, the deputy executive director of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing, and Alan Mallach, research director of the National Housing Institute.

Whether you are a developer who is planning to build in Princeton, a member of a municipal body charged with complying with the regulations, an interested citizen, or you are looking for affordable housing, please come out on April 13 to listen, question and learn.

Harriet Bryan & Sheila Berkelhammer, Co-Presidents, Princeton Community Housing,

245 Nassau Street, Princeton

Egg Hunt Realities

I read with some interest and incredulity Ronald J. Coughlin’s letter "Eggs For All" in your March 23 issue. It really should have been titled "In Praise Of Mediocrity." Any psychologist who categorically says that competition is bad should check his research and learn more about human nature. I will grant that in some areas cooperation can be beneficial, but real progress, personal and professional, is based on competition.

If you follow his philosophy there is no incentive for improvement or progress. At work, do you really just want average employees? In sports, do you really idolize average players? In schools, do you want your child or his teachers to be just average? I could go on, but I hope the point is clear. The reality is that in real life there are winners and losers. We need to strive to avoid being the latter.

I have heard that the current goal in some schools is to make children feel good about themselves. It sounds real nice but it is not the way the real world works. What sounds more sensible to me is that children should learn, for lack of a better term, good sportsmanship or "fair play," and then to achieve all they can. Competition should not be "dog eat dog" but it is essential to personal and social progress.

Robert C. McCready

Uptapped Labor: The Disabled

As you are reading this, the labor market in New Jersey continues to shrink at an alarming rate. Simultaneously, unemployment statistics show that 70 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed with two-thirds of this group wanting to work. Why hasn’t the business community jumped on the opportunity to hire this untapped labor pool?

Employers I have worked with during the past 16 years consistently tell me that they would be interested in hiring someone with a disability but are afraid their company’s health care costs will increase, or they won’t be able to fire someone if the situation doesn’t work out. However, studies have dispelled those assumptions, and business leaders who have hired people with disabilities describe higher retention, less absenteeism, higher productivity of

non-disabled peers motivated by working alongside their co-worker with a disability, more creative problem solving and a marketing edge to a multi-billion dollar consumer market that serves the disability community. Despite those clear benefits, many employers are still not hiring from this pool. With the baby boomers heading for retirement and not enough workers to fill the void, employers need to consider all labor resources.

Several New Jersey business leaders, including Educational Testing Service CEO Kurt Landgraf, understand the abilities that people with disabilities bring to the workforce. ETS hired an adult with autism named Kevin four years ago, and to date, he has experienced many successes. Each day, Kevin sorts mail for his assigned run and performs various other mail-related responsibilities. He rides New Jersey Transit’s Access Link to and from work. He is assisted on the

job by natural supports, and his job coach as needed, which is at no cost to the employer. By hiring, training, promoting and supporting people with disabilities along a broad spectrum of abilities, businesses, individuals with disabilities, and their co-workers reap the rewards. Employers can also receive tax credits. I urge companies to take the time to match the skills of individuals with disabilities to the appropriate company needs in order to realize the many benefits of hiring people with a variety of disabilities.

The New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC) strongly encourages business leaders to learn the advantages of hiring people with disabilities. For information contact me at 609-883-8100.

Leslie Long

Director of Adult Resources, COSAC, Ewing

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