With the goal to ensure every veteran in New Jersey has a roof over their head, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Wayne DeAngelo to expand a grant program to rehabilitate homes for veterans in need was approved Thursday by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
“In 2018, there were 555 veterans facing homelessness in New Jersey. This is completely unacceptable,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “No one who sacrificed so much to serve our country should ever be without a place to live. We must do everything we can to help our veterans have the forever home they deserve.”
The bill (A-4089) would amend the New Jersey Housing Assistance for Veterans Act to include the purchase and rehabilitation of abandoned homes for homeless veterans. The parameters of the current pilot program are limited to the rehabilitation of existing primary residences for disabled or low-income veterans.
Under the bill, nonprofit veterans’ organizations with experience in rehabilitating properties for homeless veterans would be eligible to receive a grant to purchase and rehabilitate abandoned homes. Preference would be awarded to nonprofits serving communities in the greatest need of homeless services. The program would aim to achieve a fair distribution of veterans in varying geographical regions of New Jersey.
“We cannot ignore that homelessness, particularly among veterans, is a real problem in our state,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “By expanding this program, we are taking tangible action to address this issue and end veteran homelessness in New Jersey. It’s the least we can do for our service members who have already given us so much.”
“Rehabilitation” would be redefined under the existing law to clarify that pilot program funds may be used for a broad range of project types, including repairs, renovations, reconstruction, and installation of new fixtures among other alterations.
The bill now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.