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Independent living programs for young adults are designed to help young adults develop the skills they need to lead happy, successful, and independent lives as they shift into adulthood. In these structured yet flexible settings, young adults are able to launch into their next phase of life in a supported way. Independent living for young adults has a different meaning for each individual. For some, independent living for young adults means feeling confident enough to pursue a dream career and own an apartment, for others it means being able to live away from their parents. When looking for independent living programs near you, it is important to factor in the benefits of having some distance from your home environment. Often, space away from home can allow for healing and growth to take place.

Independent living programs for young adults provide housing, on-site mentorship, and life skills programming to help young adults develop lasting and healthy habits. By giving young adults the opportunity to practice living on their own in a structured way, they can become fully prepared to lead an independent and fulfilling life. Some of the independent living skills young adults learn may include:


– Meal planning and preparation


– Time management


– Budgeting


– Health and hygiene


– Financial literacy/management


– Public transportation


– Self-care

The goal of an independent living program is to enable young adults to lead successful and well-balanced lives upon completion. Young adults at independent living programs work with vetted and trusted professionals to develop these skills. They help clients understand what healthy relationships look like, through their authentic and compassionate support.

Independent Living
Independent Living

Each independent living program serves different ages and types of clients. Most include individuals in their late-teens and early-twenties under the umbrella of being a young adult. Single-gender programs are very common, and co-ed options are also available. Independent living programs for young adults are typically located in or around cities that have plenty of educational opportunities for young adults that would like to pursue higher education.


Independent living programs for young adults also provide a variety of services depending on the specific needs of the clientele. Some of these may include:


– Individual therapy


– Group therapy


– Family therapy


– Mentoring/coaching


– Academic support


– Career counseling


– Group recreational activities


Depending on the needs of your young adult, it’s helpful to find an independent living program that serves their unique needs well.

Why choose an independent living program for young adults after residential treatment or wilderness therapy?

For young adults that have successfully completed a wilderness therapy or residential treatment program, independent living programs for young adults are the next ideal step to continue their progress into a thriving young adulthood period. The results of these primary therapeutic programs are profound: improved self-esteem, confidence, and coping skills. Independent living programs for young adults help students integrate their growth with real-world living experience while also supporting the transition between treatment and independence.


Young adults that have attended treatment have made great strides toward a better future. The goal of an independent living program is to make those initial changes into sustainable and lasting ones. By using a strengths-based approach, independent living programs build upon the skills that young adults already have accessible to them to work toward achieving independence in a step-by-step fashion.


An independent living program set young adults up for success with a step-down environment from their previous wilderness or residential stay. This supportive environment recognizes and appreciates the progress made and the transformative effect of these therapeutic programs. Having a common language and a community that understands helps support young adults and their continued trajectory toward independence.


Because their peers will have also previously attended treatment, the young adults at an independent living program feel welcomed and accepted for who they are. This shines through in the supportive milieu – or positive peer culture – that young adults likely experienced in wilderness or residential treatment as well. Because independent living programs for young adults are smaller in size than the previous treatment program, the supportive peer culture is magnified. This is where young adults are putting in the effort to create sustainable, lasting changes and their peers recognize, understand, and are supportive of this.


Along with the goals of successfully launching into young adulthood after treatment, independent living programs for young adults help re-establish healthy family relationships. Treatment thus far has likely helped heal old ones, yet understanding how these family relationships will evolve after treatment is something many young adults and parents are curious about. Independent living programs allow young adults to demonstrate their growth and independence in a real-life setting.


An independent living program ensures that the progress made in treatment continues, with a combination of independence and support from qualified professionals that understand how to help young adults achieve lasting growth and change.

Housing Shortage

7.2 million more affordable housing units are needed for extremely low income families


500,000+ people are experiencing homelessness on any given night

Housing Poverty

75% of all extremely low income families pay more than half their income on rent

Underfunded Programs

1 in 4 extremely low income families who need assistance receive it

Housing crisis

Nationally, there is a shortage of more than 7 million affordable homes for our nation’s 11 million plus extremely low-income families. View The Gap


There is no state or county where a renter working full-time at minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment. View the Out of Reach Map


Seventy-five percent of all extremely low-income families are severely cost-burdened, paying more than half their income on rent.

This is a problem! Every state and every community is impacted. Families have few options. Each year the shortage gets worse; and that’s why people are homeless in our country and why families struggle to pay for groceries and visits to their doctor.

Why it Matters

Housing is the key to reducing intergenerational poverty and increasing economic mobility. Research shows that increasing access to affordable housing is the most cost-effective strategy for reducing childhood poverty and increasing economic mobility in the United States. Stanford economist Raj Chetty found that children who moved to lower poverty neighborhoods saw their earnings as adults increase by approximately 31%, an increased likelihood of living in better neighborhoods as adults, and a lowered likelihood of becoming a single parent. Moreover, children living in stable, affordable homes are more likely to thrive in school and have greater opportunities to learn inside and outside the classroom.


Increasing access to affordable housing bolsters economic growth. Research shows that the shortage of affordable housing costs the American economy about $2 trillion a year in lower wages and productivity. Without affordable housing, families have constrained opportunities to increase earnings, causing slower GDP growth. In fact, researchers estimate that the growth in GDP between 1964 and 2009 would have been 13.5% higher if families had better access to affordable housing. This would have led to a $1.7 trillion increase in income, or $8,775 in additional wages per worker. Moreover, each dollar invested in affordable housing boosts local economies by leveraging public and private resources to generate income—including resident earnings and additional local tax revenue—and supports job creation and retention.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, homelessness is defined as “an individual who lacks housing (without regard to whether the individual is a member of a family), including an individual whose primary residence during the night is a supervised public or private facility (e.g., shelters) that provides temporary living accommodations, and an individual who is a resident in transitional housing.” A homeless person is an individual without permanent housing who may live on the streets; stay in a shelter, mission, single room occupancy facilities, abandoned building or vehicle; or in any other unstable or non-permanent situation” [Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C., 254b)].

According to the January 2017 point-in-time estimate, there are approximately 553,742 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in America. This represents a rate of 17 people experiencing homelessness for every 10,000 people (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2018; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2017). At the time of the 2017 point-in-time count, approximately 66% of individuals experiencing homelessness lived in shelters or transitional housing, 34% in places not meant for human habitation, including abandoned buildings or on the street. 66.7% of people experiencing homelessness were single individuals, 33.3% were families with children. 7.2% of the total count were veterans, and 7.4% were unaccompanied children and young adults. Between 2016 and 2017, homelessness rose nationally by 0.7%, with the largest increases among unaccompanied children and young adults (14.3% increase), individuals experiencing chronic homelessness (12.2% increase), and people experiencing unsheltered homelessness (9.4% increase). Families experiencing homelessness decreased by 5.2% (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2018; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2017).

Universal Initiatives is committed to providing excellent services that increase the financial literacy of residents in our community from all walks of life. We believe that understanding good money management and how to make informed financial decisions ensures that residents can live a long, happy, and stable life.


Our existing Financial Education program provides young people between the ages of 18 and 26 years old with quality financial education surrounding personal finance and homeownership, preparing them for the responsibility of their future and educating them on the benefits of long term investments. Our existing program was launched in the City of Camden, New Jersey, and has proved to be both successful and productive in enhancing the financial literacy of young residents.


Moving into this new year, following the spike of the COVID-19 pandemic, we sought out to grow our financial education program and offer residents of surrounding communities of all ages and abilities, with free financial education and intervention, to promote positive financial habits in our community and accelerate revitalization of the local and national economy through increased financial literacy of citizens who elsewise would be left to deal with the financial aftermath of the pandemic alone.


We partnered with MassMutual to build our Pathway to Financial Freedom program, blending valuable education and resources together to combat the financial insecurity crisis facing our communities, including high risk of foreclosure, eviction, bankruptcy, and unmanageable student loan debt. Our program provides direct intervention for community residents and includes both excellent education and action courses that help people understand their current finances and build the foundation for a successful financial future.


MassMutual has a great history of providing support surrounding financial education for individuals of all ages, abilities, and incomes. Whether you are a recent college graduate or soon to retire, MassMutual has programs and resources to help you build a successful financial plan that supports your future goals and lifestyle. We believe that the partnership between Universal Initiatives and MassMutual will provide residents of our communities with much needed support and education following one of the most vulnerable financial times in our history.

Universal Initiatives is committed to providing excellent programs and investing in the wellness of our community. We stand on the front line of improving economic sustainability, eradicating poverty, preventing violence, overcoming homelessness, enhancing employment opportunities, and fostering social prosperity. In 2021, we decided to improve our existing programs to provide easy, accessible, and affordable solutions to combat our communities most pressing challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Today, we are providing young residents of Camden City, New Jersey, with life-changing affordable housing solutions that give them a quality, healthy, and stable place to call home while investing in their future success.


Universal Initiatives focuses on building Premier Lifestyles for individuals, families, and communities by focusing on improving access to quality public health, education, and housing resources. Our strategic alliance with Hopeworks, OneSource Services, and Millennial Housing Foundation in Camden, New Jersey, helps improve the quality of life in our community by providing young residents with a unique opportunity to live luxury for less and participate in an innovative, modern, and new way of life. Together, we provide the next-generations taste for a meaningful lifestyle by breaking down the barriers of homeownership and overcoming the stigma surrounding affordable housing in our communities. We provide a balance between luxury and affordability, enhancing lives through quality enrichment programs that pave the way for a successful and sustainable future.


Our unique Pathway to Homeownership Program addresses the challenges of serial renting and lifelong systematic low-income housing subsidization in our communities that entrap underserved, low-income residents in economically disadvantaged communities, and make it difficult for young residents to access long term wealth through homeownership. We combat these historic problems by elevating renters to homeownership, investing in their future homeownership throughout the duration of their lease and providing them with opportunities to build long term, generational wealth by having access to instant equity through their elevation to homeownership.


Our community alliance is changing the lives of young residents in Camden City by offering them hope and support for a more financially sustainable, and opportunistic future. Together, we are encouraging healthy homeownership by offering financial assistance, encouraging healthy financial habits through our Pathway to Financial Freedom Program, and promoting healthy community revitalization through our team effort of expanding the affordable housing stock for city residents.


During one of the most vulnerable times in our nation’s history, our strategic alliance is providing support, and meaningful resources for young residents in need, restoring hope and faith into our communities future and providing safe, affordable, and stable homes for our young people to live, grow, and thrive.

The Coronavirus Pandemic was an unprecedented moment in our global history – plunging our community and communities throughout the world into a public health crisis and economic recession by closing down businesses and driving individuals of all incomes into unemployment and financial unpredictability. COVID-19 revealed some of the most pressing longstanding challenges in our public systems which were designed to provide limited public benefits and minimize the voices of the people most impacted. During lockdown, social media became the safety net for rightfully frustrated citizens to voice their pain and frustration with an inefficient and inconsistent system – the current inability to rapidly provide appropriate aid to those in dire need brings attention to the importance of building long term safety nets for residents in our community most at risk of suffering from financial exclusion and loss during the progression and aftermath of a global pandemic.


LMI households in our community recognize the importance of saving and want to save, however, they are not always in the position to do so nor equipped with the right tools, support, and education in order to follow a traditional savings model that is consistently growing as they age. In many scenarios, LMI households in our community are saving, but throughout the course of the year tap into those savings to address sudden or urgent needs, such as tire replacements or health bills. The act of saving money is not the struggle of modern day consumers, but the process of holding, sustaining, and being able to build without having to tap into long-term savings is the problem we are seeing in our communities.


So the question now is: How can we address the need for sustainable saving and how can we provide LMI residents with a path to a better safety net following the COVID-19 pandemic?


By providing mandatory financial education or accessible financial education programs in our community for LMI residents throughout many stages in their lifetime, we are able to assist and mentor individuals from an early age through to adulthood, where financial behavior at a young age becomes the precedent for their mid-life financial habits. The goal of our financial education initiative at UI is to provide LMI residents with access to quality financial education so they can tap into long term wealth and build healthy financial habits that build consistency in savings behavior within LMI households so they have an ability to earn more and save more over time. With a focus on our mission, we strive to connect residents with goals, both big or small, as an indicator and motivator to continue positive saving behavior and fund goals that have a short-term satisfying result, while being able to contribute to long-term savings gradually, so LMI residents don’t feel the need to tap into long-term savings to weather a financial shock and can avoid expensive forms of debt by saving for the predictable future (ex: like saving towards new tires or a new car).

I can conceive of not better service…than boldly exposing the weakness, liabilities and infinite corruptions of democracy

Walt Whitman

Whitman moved to Camden to his brother’s home after a debilitating stroke in 1873. Considered one of our nation’s most gifted writers, he was an ardent abolitionist and supporter of women’s rights. His optimism on the prospects for a more inclusive American democracy were at odds with his assertions about the superiority of the white race, which continue to spark controversy.


“The charge of racism was particularly fraught because it was levied against Walt Whitman, the poet who in Leaves of Grass sang of American democracy as a project of radical inclusion, the poet who wrote about tending to the runaway slave, the poet who looked upon the enslaved person on the auction block and saw in them their generations of descendants, the poet who declared that the enslaved were the equal of those who enslaved them,” writes Lavelle Porter, is his essay “Should Walt Whitman be Cancelled”.


Whatever Whitman’s views on race were, it’s worth reflecting on just how democracy has worked out 21 years into the 21st century for his adopted city. Since the 1890’s, Camden has become a majority minority city and consistently ranks as one of the poorest communities with some of the most glaring health disparities in the nation.


In 1950, Camden had a population of 124,555, ranking it as the U.S. 86th largest city. Today, it’s close to 74,000, making it the 487th largest. For decades, through our tax policy, the U.S. incentivized corporations to shift manufacturing overseas. No matter who controlled the White House or Congress, our elected leaders served the interests of the donor class and much of urban America was hallowed out in the process.


Today in Camden, according to the U.S. Census, just 5.8 percent of the population is white, 41.4 percent Black and 51 percent Hispanic or Latino. In over 45 percent of the households a language other than English and just 63.9 percent of the households have a broadband internet account.


Over 36 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, compared to 9.2 percent for New Jersey as a whole. But that’s only part of the story. According to the United Way’s ALICE project, which tracks families living above the official poverty rate, but unable to make ends meet, over three-quarters of the city is struggling economically.


According to the NYU School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine City Health Dashboard, which collects health data on 500 of the country’s largest cities, Camden City residents’ average life expectancy at 73, six years shorter than the other cities NYU tracked. In at least one zip code in Camden, the average life expectancy was more than decade shorter than the rest of the average in the surveyed cities.


According to the New Jersey Department of Health, Camden’s infant mortality rate is 7.3 per 1,000 live births, compared to 4.3 in the rest of the state. “The infant mortality rate in New Jersey has been generally decreasing since the early 1900s,” according to NJDOH. “However, the rate varies widely across the state and by several maternal and infant characteristics. The rate among Blacks is more than triple the rate among Whites and double the rate among Hispanics.”


In New Jersey, perhaps no other city offers such a clear illustration of how systemic racism, massive wealth inequality, and poor health outcomes all intersect. Consider NJ Spotlight’s May 28 report that only 31 percent of Camden has gotten their COVID vaccination, while 80 percent of the eligible residents of neighboring Haddonfield have gotten their shot.


The Democratic Party and its county organization has dominated Camden’s politics for decades. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican to be elected president, lost Camden County and the popular vote in New Jersey. (Lincoln, did manage, however, to win 4 out of New Jersey’s 7 electors.)


Not surprisingly, with one party rule so concretely established, the city has suffered from multiple corruption scandals going back decades. Looking at election results going back twenty years, it’s not uncommon in a primary election, which in a mono-party city is the election, for less than ten percent of the eligible voters to turn out.


“The ills of this desperate city deepened today with the indictment of its mayor, Milton Milan, on 19 charges of corruption, ranging from laundering drug money and taking bribes from organized crime leaders to stealing his own computer, collecting the insurance and then selling it to a naive office volunteer for three times its worth,” reported the New York Times in 2000. “Mr. Milan, who was elected in 1997, is the third Camden mayor to be indicted in the last 20 years.”


Arnold B. Webster, Milan’s predecessor pled guilty to federal wire fraud charges in 1998. Back in 1981, Mayor Angelo J. Errichetti, was convicted on corruption charges and went to federal prison in 1981.


In 2006, a Camden City Councilman Ali Sloan El, resigned his office before he pled guilty to federal corruption charges. In 2008, former State Senator Wayne Bryant, the former chair of the Senate Budget Committee was convicted on corruption charges.


For a generation Camden politics, indeed South Jersey entire Democratic Party’s landscape has been dominated by George Norcross III, South Jersey’s unelected Democratic boss and his family.


Norcross sits atop a sprawling nexus of insurance, health care and philanthropic enterprises and historically has been one of those wealthy Democratic National Committee members who, despite some progressive rule changes post 2016, gets to have an oversized role in picking his party’s presidential nominee.


He has taken a leading role in the revitalization for all things in the Camden, taking aim at reforming public education and public safety. While his civic engagement has burnished a national reputation as a philanthropist, WNYC and ProPublica reported that of the $1.6 billion in controversial New Jersey Economic Development grants given out to Camden, Norcross and businesses connected with his family were beneficiaries of $1.1 billion of that state stimulus.


His boss-like hold on political power ties back to his family, his material means, decades of philanthropy, and a track record for making investments in Camden that have produced some results in terms of improved school performance and crime reduction while maintaining a near feudal control over local politics even though he doesn’t hold elected public office himself.


In July, WNYC reported the Murphy administration had “put a freeze on $578 million worth of tax breaks” to a dozen companies including to Norcross linked firms that had been awarded the grants from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority under Christie.


According to the public radio station “of the 12 companies, five are connected to Norcross and represent the vast majority of the dollars — $540 million of the $578 million total — that have been frozen by the EDA.”


WNYC quoted Jim Walden, lead investigator for the Governor’s Task Force on EDA Tax Incentives, that there had been criminal referrals of several companies to law enforcement but “he didn’t specify which ones or what possible charges the companies may face. He said the investigations are still active.”


The freeze came after the Murphy administration followed up on a NJ State Comptroller’s audit of the EDA’s tax incentive programs that “revealed startling deficiencies in monitoring and oversight,” according to a 2019 press release put out by the Governor’s office. “The audit released earlier this month unfortunately validated my long-standing concerns that New Jersey’s tax incentive programs gave out billions of dollars in tax breaks but failed to deliver the promised economic benefits,” Murphy said in the statement at the time.


For Vida Neil, a long time Camden City resident, political activist, and former municipal employee, the NJ EDA scandal is just the latest in a long saga of a self-dealing political power structure in the form of a Democratic Party machine dominated by outside interests that appear to get wealthier as her city struggles for the basics. “Our streets are still atrocious,” Neil said. “We still got all this blight, homelessness, and all that Camden still is.


“Murphy had the lawyers on it, and we had the EDA hearings and then Murphy realized he needed Norcross and all of the sudden it stopped,” she said. “It’s hard to beat the big money. The only way you can do that is if all the citizens come together.”

Wonder what Walt Whitman would say?