(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Patricia Jones and Adam Taliaferro to help improve access to shelter for New Jersey’s homeless population was released Monday by an Assembly panel.
“Securing a spot in a homeless shelter is not easy,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This would allow a shelter that is full to determine whether there are available beds in nearby shelters, so they can direct individuals in need of emergency shelter to locations where they can be accommodated.”
“Unfortunately, a shelter can only accommodate so many people,” said Jones (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Instead of turning people away, this would allow a shelter that has reached full capacity to try to find an alternative solution for an individual in need of emergency shelter.”
“It makes sense to have shelters working together so they can fill the gaps,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Having real-time information about the availability of beds in other shelters can help prevent homeless individuals from having to seek shelter in the streets.”
The bill (A-2865) would require the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency to allow operators of shelters for the homeless and others who place persons in homeless shelters to have access to real-time information about the occupancy status of shelter beds, as collected by the Homeless Management Information System to determine the availability of shelter beds in the vicinity.
The bill would not apply to shelters for victims of domestic violence.
The bill would also require a shelter for the homeless to cooperate in providing any necessary information to the database, as determined by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, the Department of Community Affairs, and the Department of Human Services, as a condition of being eligible to receive funding for the shelter from the Departments of Community Affairs and Human Services.
The bill was released by the Assembly State & Local Government Committee.