(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak, Angelica Jimenez, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Daniel Benson to boost rental assistance to military veterans was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.
"Our veterans were willing to endure untold sacrifices for their country. Now we need to step up to the plate and do all we can to help care for them," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). This financial assistance is meant to give a hands-up while they find the road back to self-sufficiency."
"For veterans returning to a post-combat life, especially our 'wounded warriors,' housing assistance can be critical," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "Boosting this program will go a long way towards helping many rebuild their lives without having to rely entirely on family."
Under the Homelessness Prevention Act of 1984, the state established a rental assistance (SRAP) program for low income individuals or households. As part of the law, the state reserves a portion of rental assistance grants for veterans who have successfully completed the Veterans Transitional Housing Program, or "Veterans Haven," a vocational and transitional housing program for homeless veterans administered by the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs.
The bill (A-3553) approved today would reserve an additional portion of the tenant-based rental assistance vouchers for other veterans, not just those who have completed certain transitional housing programs.
"It's often easy to forget how young many of our veterans are when they return home," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Many of them have known no other life but service and are greatly in need of a helping hand while they adjust to a new life and find employment."
"Many veterans are coming home today to a vastly different economy then when they were first deployed, making finding employment all that much harder," said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). "Rental assistance can be a crucial lifeline until they can get firmly back on their feet again."
"Many of our veterans are returning home in their twenties or thirties and have injuries that may prevent them from functioning to the fullest ever again, no less working or being able to support a family," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This compensation is the least we can do to honor their sacrifices."
The bill was originally introduced as part of a six-bill package, sponsored by Mazzeo and Andrzejczak, which was designed to boost assistance for "wounded warriors" and their caregivers, an ever-growing demographic that faces unique challenges in the post-9/11 era.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.