Legislation Assembly Democrats Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak, Annette Quijano, Joe Lagana, Wayne DeAngelo and Sgt. Bruce Land sponsored to establish a grant program for homeless veterans’ shelters in New Jersey was advanced by an Assembly committee on Monday.
The bill (A-782) would establish the “Southern New Jersey Homeless Veterans Shelter Grant Program.” Under the program, the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs would award grants to Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties to help provide veterans with improved access to homeless shelters. The purpose of the program is to award grants to the state’s three southern-most counties for identifying and providing appropriate locations and property to develop and operate shelters for homeless veterans.
“New Jersey’s southern counties are in particular need of shelters for homeless veterans,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland), an Army veteran who served in Iraq. “Because of mobility issues, access to resources is often limited for homeless veterans, and in conditions such as extreme cold, they find themselves isolated from shelters and facilities that provide resources for veterans. This bill would result in the development of much-needed shelters in appropriate locations.”
New Jersey has an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 homeless veterans, according to the state Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs.
“We owe our nation’s freedom and security to those who have served in the United States military,” said Quijano (D-Union), chair of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee. “Fulfilling our moral obligation to honor veterans requires us to ensure that every one of them has access to the resources this legislation will make available.”
“There are so many veterans who struggle with the transition to civilian life and end up on the street,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Bridging the gap between life in the service and stable, permanent housing via these shelters is an important part of addressing veteran homeless.”
“Those who served in the world’s best military should never come back and worry about where to lay their heads at night,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Building these homeless shelters can help make sure New Jersey’s veterans aren’t out on the street while they’re in the process of finding housing.”
“No one ever imagines that they’ll be homeless, not men and women in the United States, and especially not the brave, honorable men and women who served in the military,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), an Army veteran who served in Vietnam. “This legislation is about making sure veterans who have fallen on hard times know that there’s always a place where they can turn here in New Jersey.”
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, of which DeAngelo is vice-chair.