(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo and Raj Mukherji to allow counties to prioritize county homelessness trust fund grants for homeless veterans was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Monday.
According to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, New Jersey has among its homeless population an estimated nearly 2,000 veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
“Putting an end to homelessness in our state is a top priority,” Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Counties are working hard to decrease the homeless population in their areas. This legislation would allow them to do more to specifically help our homeless veterans.”
The bill (A-5211) would allow counties to prioritize grants from county homelessness trust funds for the benefit of veterans. Grants from these trust funds may be used to develop affordable housing, provide rental assistance, and provide supportive and preventative services to aid the homeless or those at risk of homelessness.
“It is unconscionable that in our democracy, those men and women who risked their lives to protect our freedom could be left out on the street without a roof over their heads,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson), the only former U.S. Marine in the General Assembly. “Giving counties the ability to ensure homeless veterans are helped and supported through a dedicated portion of trust fund grants is one more step toward ending homelessness in New Jersey.”
Under the bill, counties would be allowed to give a preference in the award of grants for these services for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The bill will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.