Bill to Aid the Homeless Gains Senate Approval

Senate President Steve Sweeney

Would Extend Eligibility for Emergency Assistance to Poorest New Jerseyans Experiencing Homelessness

On October 29, 2018, the New Jersey Senate has passed S. 866 – Eligibility for Emergency Assistance. The bill passed by a vote from 38-1 and addresses the homelessness crisis in New Jersey.

S. 866 was authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Senator Joe Vitale (D-19) and responds to the crisis situations faced by some of the poorest New Jerseyans experiencing homelessness.

The bill would extend eligibility for emergency assistance beyond the current 12-month time limit for receiving emergency assistance to certain qualifying individuals with disabilities, individuals caring for a dependent with a disability, individuals over the age of 60 or individuals who are chronically unemployed.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has recommended to extend eligibility for five years after the bill becomes law at which time the extension will “sunset.”

  • The bill addresses the void created when the state’s Housing Assistance and Housing Hardship Extension programs.
  • The programs had assisted about 3,000 people who had used up all of their available emergency housing assistance or have a disability and are waiting for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) assistance to begin.
  • The programs expired in July 2105 with no programs to replace them.

“Homelessness is a treatable and preventable condition that puts people at risk for other hardships,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “This is emergency assistance for those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. If you don’t have a place to live it is difficult to hold a job, maintain good health or provide family members with other basic necessities.”

“Because the programs in place were temporary, the assistance it offered didn’t provide the security and certainty for people already facing insecure and uncertain living conditions,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Some individuals have already been left homeless and countless others are struggling to secure housing aid. But they all deserve the stability of a roof over their head.”

Additional sponsors of the S. 866 include Senators:

S. 866 – Eligibility for Emergency Assistance

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