Companion Legislation Establishes Office of Homelessness Prevention To Coordinate Efforts and Implement Statewide Strategy
On April 30, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation to increase emergency assistance and build up the resources to address homelessness in the state.
The Governor signed S3585 and S3586 into law, expanding state housing aid for New Jersey’s most vulnerable individuals and families. Congratulations to all of the advocates across the state including the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ (the Network), The Anti-Poverty Network (APN) and the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey (SHA) who worked to help ensure that passage of this legislation
“Every New Jerseyan deserves a safe and affordable place to live,” said Governor Murphy. “With these new laws, we are acting on our commitment to build stronger communities and ensure that no one in New Jersey, especially the most vulnerable among us, spends a night without a place to call home. I commend the Legislature for working with me to combat these critical issues of homelessness and housing insecurity.”
This bill signing comes a day after the Governor signed a bipartisan legislative package into law that will help New Jerseyans struggling with the state’s highest-in-the-nation foreclosure rate.
S3586 allows individuals to receive additional lifetime emergency assistance under certain circumstances, subject to annual allocation limits. The legislation provides that emergency assistance benefits received by an individual more than seven years ago would not count toward the program’s 12-month limit on benefits. The bill specifies that no individual may receive a cumulative total of more than 24 months of emergency assistance, excluding extensions available under current law.
The bill also requires the NJ Dept. of Human Services (DHS) to provide case management services to assist individuals who receive emergency assistance under the bill with finding more stable housing.
Additionally, the legislation limits the total amount of assistance the state can distribute to people who had already received emergency housing aid to $20 million. Up to $5 million will be made available to cover the cost of the case management services required by the bill. Primary sponsors of S3586 include Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assemblymembers Raj Mukherji, Angela McKnight, and Nicholas Chiaravalloti.
S3585 establishes an Office of Homelessness Prevention in the Department of Community Affairs. The office will coordinate homelessness-prevention efforts among State and local agencies and private organizations and implement a statewide strategy to address homelessness. The legislation allocates $3 million in funding for the new office. Primary sponsors of S3585 include Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Dawn Addiego, and Assemblywomen Lisa Swain and Eliana Pintor Marin.
DHS is also taking action to make it easier for individuals and families who are either homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless to receive critical services and assistance in a timely way.
The changes include updating guidance and proposing rule changes to make timely access to Emergency Assistance services easier for eligible individuals struggling to make rent, pay utilities or secure emergency shelter; making it easier for families experiencing homelessness to get child care; and easing barriers to enrollment for these critical programs.
Click here to read more from the Office of Governor Phil Murphy.
Click here to read news coverage of the bill signings.