Sweeney’s Bill Would Aid Most
Vulnerable New Jerseyans in Crisis
On January 28, 2016, NJTVNews reported State Senate President Stephen Sweeney joined a group of social service advocates and strongly criticized the state Department of Human Services’ decision to let two housing assistance pilot programs expire, cutting $15 million in aid, and affecting some 3,000 disabled, elderly and mentally ill residents.
Sweeney introduced legislation in response to Governor Christie’s Administration announcement last year that it was ending two temporary emergency housing assistance programs and would provide $15.5 million a year in funding. The financial support would be available as long as necessary.
Under the bill, benefits for the 3,019 former recipients would be restored and the Department of Human Services’ commissioner would have to review individual cases twice a year. In July 2016:
- 1,771 of the people affected were adults without children,
- 760 were families on welfare and
- 488 people receiving permanency disability payments.
The predicament of these very poor and needy New Jerseyans reached a crisis level. Program funding lapsed without an immediate replacement, stopping rental payments and triggering eviction court actions.
“Since the end of this current pilot in July, my agency, along with many other social service agencies has seen a flood of vulnerable individuals and families who are either currently homeless of facing loss of their housing.”
Said Steve Leder of the Community Health Law Project, reported NJTVNews.
In October, NJAdvanced Media first reported a
“Crisis for some of the most vulnerable populations in New Jersey who have relied on emergency assistance to protect them from homelessness.”
NJ Advanced Media reports on January 28, 2016,
“Christie administration officials denied there was a crisis, or that there isn’t a plan to find these people affordable housing.”
“This is a completely solvable problem. No one has been able to give me a good reason why this (program) had to be terminated in July.”
Said Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.
CBS New York reported,
‘Sweeney also says homelessness is hurting taxpayers as many suffering from poverty often run up large bills for hospitalization, which is often paid for with public money. New Jersey had a population of more than 10,000 homeless men, women and children during 2015, according to Monarch Housing Associates.”