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Sweeney Bill To Boost Emergency Assistance Gains Committee Approval

Steve Sweeney

Measure Would Extend Aid for Vital Services

Trenton –A bill sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that would help those experiencing economic hardship such as homelessness and the loss of basic necessities was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today. The bill, S-1965, would allow an individual to receive additional lifetime emergency assistance benefits under certain circumstances.

The bill would eliminate the lifetime limit on assistance after seven years, which would allow those individuals suffering emergency hardships to receive additional assistance. It would cover individuals in danger of becoming homeless after many years since they received their lifetime allowable amount of emergency assistance.

“This extension of emergency aid could provide critical help for those who are experiencing hard times that make it all but impossible for them to meet basic needs, including food and shelter,” said Senator Sweeney. “There are times when people need help in order to survive or to help themselves. It could be a lifeline for those in real need.”

Emergency assistance is generally limited to 12 months, with additional assistance for up to six months in limited cases of extreme hardship. However, some people who receive EA pay the state back for those benefits. Typically, this occurs when someone qualifies for Social Security and receives retroactive Social Security payments. The EA funds are then repaid to the state.

This bill would require that the Commissioner of Human Services nullify any months of emergency assistance that were received by an individual more than seven years prior to an application for emergency assistance.

“The extension of this aid can provide an important buffer that will help those in need at a crucial time,” said Senator Sweeney. “It can make a real difference in their lives.”

The Emergency Assistance Program provides tenant-based and project-based rental assistance grants to prevent individuals from becoming homeless. These programs help pay for living necessities such as rent or utility security deposits, home heating fuel or past due rents and mortgages, or utility debts.

The bill was released from committee with a 13-0 vote.  It next moves to the full Senate for further consideration.