TRENTON – Assemblyman John Burzicelli, (D-3), Paulsboro, wondered Thursday how the Department of Human Services could close Vineland Developmental Center by 2013.
DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez told the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee there are 22 group homes in the area, and there’s a potential for some 40 residents who can be placed there.
There are 350 patients who are presently at Vineland.
She expects more community housing will be developed over time and some could be transferred to other homes.
While Burzicelli said he supports community placement centers, he said he had “great concern” of whether closing Vineland was a wise decision.
He said “only time will tell” whether the community centers are a good idea.
The eventual closure of Vineland Developmental Center will save approximately $6.7 million, according to a projection by the Office of Legislative Services.
Several advocates at the hearing wore buttons with green letters, reading “Close Vineland.” Supporters for the closure said it will give the residents there the opportunity to integrate again into the communities they previously called home, and be able to live fuller lives.