TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today approved two bills sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice, to address homeless assistance programs and the problems discovered last year with the deplorable living conditions in transitional housing in hotels and motels across the State for the homeless.
“Many citizens are being forced into homelessness because of sub prime mortgages, and the rising cost of food and fuel,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “As more residents are becoming homeless, we must be better prepared to meet all their quality of life needs. Since last year, the transitional housing set up for the homeless has come under fire. News reports came out describing unsanitary and unsafe living facilities that were being provided to the homeless. My bill will ensure that the homeless population in our State is placed in safe locations.”
The first bill, S-1177, would seek to improve housing conditions and services provided to Work First New Jersey and Supplemental Security Income recipients who receive emergency assistance and are temporarily placed in motels and hotels.
“We need to focus on the future of the homeless in our State and be mindful that our goal is to ultimately help these citizens to become independent. We can not just simply place them in dangerous and unhealthy housing,” said Senator Rice.
The second bill, S-1180, would establish the New Jersey Task Force on Coordinating and Funding Programs for the Homeless. The task force is to include 17 members, which include the Commissioners of Human Services, Children and Families, Community Affairs, Health and Senior Services, and Labor and Workforce Development.
“The task force would develop recommendations, concerning the most effective means of coordinating services and funding for programs set up to meet the needs of homeless,” said Senator Rice.
“It’s important that we understand the homeless population and what services they will require, both in the immediate future and as we help them transition into being self-sufficient,” said Senator Rice. “I would also like to clearly define which State departments should be accountable for caring for and placing our homeless, so that no one falls between the cracks.”
The bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.