(TRENTON) - Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Jamel Holley and Joann Downey to establish an affordable housing occupancy preference for homeless and disabled veterans in New Jersey was advanced Thursday by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
"We have a responsibility to take care of those veterans who face challenges after their military service," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Transitioning to civilian life can be difficult for many veterans. Ensuring that homeless veterans, veterans who are disabled, and the relatives who care for them, have affordable places to live can help these veterans and their families return to normalcy."
The bill (A-2199) would establish a veterans' preference for affordable housing in housing projects that are either operated by a housing authority, financed by a county improvement authority, or are part of a redevelopment project. The bill would task the Commissioner of Community Affairs with adopting rules and regulations to establish the standards for the veteran's preference.
"Veterans put their lives on the line to serve this country. Many return from service with physical and emotional wounds that make their return to civilian life very difficult," said Holley (D-Union). "This bill would help ensure that homeless or disabled veterans who have fallen on hard times can have the peace of mind that comes with having a stable and affordable place to live."
"We have a more obligation take care of those who stepped forward to take care of us," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "Veterans deserve better than a life on the streets. Setting up an affordable housing preference for veterans who are homeless or disabled would help ensure that former service men and women who are struggling financially are able to secure a cost-effective place to live."
Under the provisions of the bill, preference for these affordable housing units would be given to homeless veterans, disabled veterans, and family members who live with disabled veterans and are their primary caregivers.
Priority would be first given to homeless veterans, then to disabled veterans, and then to family members who are the primary residential caregivers to disabled veterans residing with them.
All applicants for the housing preference would be required to meet the income requirements for admission to the housing project, regardless of the priority status granted under the bill.
The bill was approved by the Assembly in March.