TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew which would urge Congress to enact legislation to set aside housing choice vouchers for homeless veterans was unanimously approved by the Senate today, receiving final legislative approval.
“It is shameful that the brave men and women who have risked their lives in the name of freedom and have fallen on hard economic times cannot find the housing help they need,” said Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May and Cumberland. “Congress must act immediately to correct this egregious wrong and ensure that homeless veterans around the country get the support and assistance they need to get back on their feet. This is about doing right by those who’ve sacrificed so much to keep America safe.”
The resolution, SCR-68, would memorialize Congress to increase the set-aside for housing choice vouchers, which are provided by the federal government for very low-income individuals or families, for homeless veterans, in order to subsidize the cost of rent for decent housing in the private market. Through increased homeless veteran set-asides in the housing choice voucher program, Senator Van Drew argued that the country can do better for the hundreds of thousands around the nation who have served their country but have fallen on difficult times.
“America cannot turn its back on the plight of homeless veterans,” said Senator Van Drew. “So many of the freedoms we enjoy every day have been bought and paid for by the blood of American soldiers. We need to expand housing assistance for vets in need, and make sure that we’re giving our brave veterans the support they need to realize the American dream of home ownership and self-sustainability.”
According to Senator Van Drew, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that nearly one-quarter of homeless adults in this country, or more than 400,000 veterans, have served in the Armed Forces. Despite this, the VA’s outreach services assist only about 20 percent of those in need each year. In New Jersey, approximately 8,300 veterans experience homelessness each night, but there are currently fewer than 160 low-cost transitional housing units provided by the VA in the entire State, and due to the limited scope of the VA’s housing program, only 1,750 housing choice vouchers have been set aside for homeless veterans.
“Twenty percent doesn’t cut it, when thousands of veterans go to sleep each night without a bed to sleep in or a roof over their heads,” said Senator Van Drew. “It’s time that America gives something back to those who have given so much to protect our county. Increasing housing choice assistance for homeless veterans is the very least we can do to make good on the debt we owe to those who’ve fought for American freedom.”
The resolution, which requires no action by the Governor, will now be filed with the Secretary of the Senate and the Assembly Clerk, and will be transmitted to Congress to express the opinion of the New Jersey State Legislature.