(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Upendra J. Chivukula (D-Middlesex/Somerset) and Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) that would make affordable housing more accessible to New Jersey veterans received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
“Finding reasonably priced housing can be challenging. For veterans, who are returning home to a poor job market and high housing costs, who may be dealing with mental and physical disabilities, it can be even more difficult,” said Chivukula. “This bill helps makes the transition to civilian life a bit smoother for our veterans by ensuring that they have affordable housing options when they get back.”
“The homelessness rate among veterans in this country is alarming. This bill can help put a dent on this problem by targeting affordable housing for veterans,” said Prieto. “No soldier should have to come back home after fighting a war to end up on the streets. This not only helps veterans currently struggling with homelessness, but those returning home. They deserve nothing less.”
The bill (A-1744/S-829) allows municipalities to enter into agreements with developers to provide affordable housing occupancy preferences of up to 50 percent of the affordable units in a particular project for low to moderate income veterans who served in time of war or other emergency. Current New Jersey law does not extend affordable housing preferences to low to moderate income veterans.
The bill requires the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to develop rules similar to those of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which extend the housing benefit to New Jersey veterans. Under the bill, any agreement to provide affordable housing preferences for veterans will not affect a municipality’s ability to get credit for the unit from COAH.
As of December 2011, nearly one in seven homeless adults are veterans, according to the Center for American Progress. More than 67,000 homeless veterans were counted on a given January night in America last year, and more than 4 in 10 homeless veterans were found unsheltered. According to the think tank, 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions in overcrowd or substandard housing.
The bill was approved 76-0 by the Assembly on Monday and 39-0 by the Senate in October.