TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Dana L. Redd and Brian P. Stack which would permit county governments to adopt homelessness housing plans to address the housing needs of the homeless within their municipalities has been approved by the Senate today by a vote of 30-6.
“As the global economic crisis continues to have a major impact on the communities and neighborhoods of New Jersey, unfortunately more State residents are unable to make ends meet,” said Senator Redd, D-Camden and Gloucester. “With unemployment and homelessness rates on the rise, we have to do something to make sure that the most vulnerable people within our communities get the food and shelter they need to survive. We cannot turn our backs on the plight of the homeless, and must do everything we can to make sure they get the basic services they need to get by.”
“In my hometown of Union City, we’ve seen social services, food pantries and homeless shelters stretched to the limit, struggling to keep up with the influx of people in need of help,” said Senator Stack, D-Hudson. “Government’s most important role is to help those who need our help the most, and through this bill, we would be making more funding available for programs designed to aid the homeless and keep people in their homes. As we work to overcome the effects of a nearly unprecedented global economic meltdown, we must work just as hard to make sure that people don’t slip through the cracks as we do to make sure the mistakes which have contributed to the crisis are not made again.”
Under the Senators’ bill, S-2354, county boards of freeholders would be authorized to adopt a resolution imposing a $3 surcharge on all documents recorded by county officials. The money collected would be deposited in a trust fund, and could only be used for providing services including rental assistance, housing project construction and rehabilitation, and for social services to assist the homeless population within the county. Any monies not utilized within four years would be transferred to the Department of Community Affairs, which would then contract with a community-based organization within the respective county to aid the homeless living within the county.
Counties that create the Homelessness Trust Funds would be required to provide information concerning the usage of funds to the State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration of Senate amendments.