Measure Would Allow Contributions to Organizations that Support Homeless Veterans Through Voluntary Deduction on State Income Taxes
(TRENTON) -- The General Assembly recently approved legislation sponsored by Democrats Troy Singleton, Daniel R. Benson, Gilbert L. "Whip" Wilson, Angel Fuentes and Annette Quijano that would allow New Jersey residents to make a voluntary donation on their gross income tax return to support homeless veterans.
"We cannot be indifferent to the plight of these brave men and women, who did what their duty required and fought for our country and our freedoms while their own lives suffered," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "If every individual in the state gave a dollar, the term 'homeless veteran' might no longer be applicable in New Jersey."
"These are soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines; they are heroes," said Benson (D-Mercer). "And some of these heroes now need our help to keep a roof over their heads. This fund not only helps raise awareness of their plight, it will help some veterans get back on their feet."
"How embarrassing and maddening it must be for our veterans to have fought to keep our freedoms intact overseas and then to come back to find that they are powerless to keep a roof over their families," said Wilson (D-Camden), a member of the committee. "Our veterans fought to protect the American dream yet are coming home to a nightmare. Our donations can and will help."
"To see some of our fighting men and women who have sacrificed so much for us be reduced to homelessness because of their devotion to our country is just plain wrong," said Fuentes (D-Camden). "Legislation like this can help set thing right, however, by calling attention to the problem and giving concerned residents a direct way to help."
"How can we tell someone that fought to defend our homes that they no longer have one to come back to," said Quijano (D-Union). "We can't and we shouldn't. And maybe, if enough people chip in a few dollars from their income tax return, we won't have to in the future."
The bill (A-2011), entitled the "New Jersey Homeless Veterans Grant Program Act," would establish a special "Homeless Veterans Grant Fund" in the state Department of the Treasury, which would be funded by voluntary gross income tax contributions from New Jersey residents. Annually the Treasury would disburse the money in the fund to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which would then award grants to organizations that assist homeless veterans in New Jersey. The grants would be distributed on a competitive basis.
Organizations wishing to apply for a grant under this program would submit an application to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The Assembly passed the measure 74-0. An identical bill was approved in October by the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and is now awaiting consideration by the Senate President.