In January of 2022, 8,754 people in New Jersey, including 1,799 children under age 18, were experiencing some form of homelessness. Seeking to address the growing issue and ensure New Jerseyans are not fighting this battle alone, Assembly Democrats sponsor a five-bill legislative package combating homelessness with preventative and supportive measures. The Assembly Human Services Committee advanced four of the bills on Thursday.
“The economic impact of the pandemic quickly shed light on the critical need to address housing concerns, improve assistance programs, and provide increased support and services to homeless shelters in New Jersey,” said Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson), Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, prime sponsor of A-4757 and second prime sponsor of A-4105. “Housing is a human right, and New Jersey families deserve to know that help will be available in their time of need. The legislation advanced today will have a meaningful impact in reducing homelessness throughout the State.”
Among the bills advanced by the committee are measures that would help the State meet the needs of residents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The package also aims to increase support for homeless shelters by allowing them to incorporate mental and behavioral health services and offering additional training for employees of emergency shelters.
“Greater access to mental and behavioral healthcare programs for residents with mental health concerns or substance use disorders will help to address underlying issues that contribute to homelessness,” said Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex), lead sponsor of A-4105 and A-4755. “The bill package aims to promote housing stability for New Jersey residents with coordinated steps to bridge the gaps in services, healthcare, and funding for shelters.”
Currently, New Jersey’s shelter system only has the capacity to house a little over 5,000 people across over 100 registered shelters. The State has seen an 8% increase in homelessness since 2021.
The Assembly Human Services Committee released the following bills:
|Establishes Interagency Council on Homelessness.|
|Permits behavioral and mental health care providers to operate within homeless shelters.|
|Requires Division of Children’s System of Care to establish training program for employees of emergency shelters for homeless.|
|Requires Resource Navigators to conduct surveys and report data related to homelessness in administering the Rental Assistance Navigation Program.|
The bill package also includes an additional measure, A-684, sponsored by Assembly members Verrelli, Chaparro and Haider, which was reported out of the Assembly Housing Committee and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.