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Singleton, Cunningham Bill to Assist Homeless Veterans and Veterans at Risk of Homelessness Advances

TRENTON- Legislation sponsored by Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Troy Singleton and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham that would direct the Adjutant General in the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs to enter into agreements with entities to fund a portion of the legal services provided to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness was advanced by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee yesterday.

“It is unacceptable to allow our veterans to go from serving our country to living on the streets when they come home,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington).  “Our veterans sacrificed time away from their families, friends and work in defense of our freedom so we must do everything possible to assist them during difficult and trying times in their lives.  They deserve to be treated with dignity and should have the best services at their disposable.”

“No one who serves our country should be at risk of becoming homeless,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson).  “These veterans deserve to have legal representation when it relates to their well-being, as well as the safety and security of their families.”

The bill, S-2525, allows the Adjutant General, to the extent possible, enter into agreement with entities located in the northern, central and southern region of the State.  The legal services would include the following:

  • legal services related to housing, including eviction defense, representation in landlord-tenant cases, and representation in foreclosure cases;
  • legal services related to family law, including assistance in court proceedings for child support, divorce, estate planning and family reconciliation;
  • legal services related to income support including assistance in obtaining public benefits;
  • legal services related to criminal defense, including defense in matters symptomatic of homelessness, such as outstanding warrants, fines and driver’s license revocation, to reduce recidivism and facilitate the overcoming of reentry obstacles in employment or housing; and
  • other legal services as the Adjutant General deems appropriate;

The bill would also amend the “New Jersey Homeless Veterans Grant Program” by ensuring that grants allocated to public or private entities which provide legal services to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness be allocated at the direction of the Adjutant General to enter into agreements with public or private entities to fund a portion of the legal services specified in the bill.

In addition, the bill would permit the Adjutant General to require entities that enter into agreements to submit periodic reports on legal services provided to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 13-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.