(TRENTON) – In an effort to assist New Jersey residents experiencing severe hardship, Assembly Members Raj Mukherji and Angela McKnight has sponsored legislation ensuring that these individuals receive crucial state assistance to help meet basic needs. The bill cleared the Assembly Human Services Committee Thursday.
“Our state’s Emergency Assistance program serves as a critical lifeline in situations where residents may have lost their home or possessions due to a catastrophe or are unemployed and on the verge of being forced out onto the street,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This bill would ensure that someone experiencing extreme hardship or facing homelessness a second time isn’t disqualified from receiving the helping hand they need to get back on their feet, while safeguarding the system from abuse.”
“Unfortunately, some New Jersey’s residents, especially in densely populated urban areas, experience seemingly unthinkable hardships which can include losing their home, food supply and clothing due to a multitude of disasters,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “By implementing these changes, we can ensure that we assist needy New Jerseyans to the best of our ability, while not allowing the system to be taken advantage of.”
The bill (A-1887) would allow an individual who previously received Emergency Assistance (EA) to again become eligible for a full twelve months of assistance if it has been at least seven years since they last received EA.
Individuals who qualify for Work First New Jersey are eligible for EA in certain situations, such as if they become homeless or are at immediate risk of becoming homeless, or when they experience a substantial loss of housing, food, clothing or household furnishings due to fire, flood or similar disaster.
EA benefits include, but are not limited to, essential food, clothing, shelter and household furnishings, temporary rental assistance or back rent or mortgage payments, utility payments, transportation to search for housing, and moving expenses.
EA is generally limited to 12 months, with additional assistance for up to six months in limited cases of extreme hardship. However, some people who receive EA pay the state back for those benefits. Typically, this occurs when someone qualifies for Social Security and receives retroactive Social Security payments. EA funds are then repaid to the state.
The bill now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.