Whelan-Beach Legislation To Support Homeless Veterans Approved By Budget Panel

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Jim Whelan and Jim Beach that would allow New Jersey taxpayers to make voluntary contributions on their tax returns to support homeless veterans was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

“New Jersey has an estimated eight thousand men and women who have served honorably in our Armed Forces now living on the streets,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “By allowing residents to donate a portion of their tax refunds to the ‘Homeless Veterans Fund’ we can show a level of support from a grateful state. This bill is really the least we can do for people who’ve sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

The bill, S-1560, would establish and permit taxpayers to donate to a special fund called the “Homeless Veterans Fund.” The funds would be distributed to homeless veterans throughout the state by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Conceivably, these funds could go to support service organizations, community agencies, veterans groups and private citizens who are working to eradicate homelessness within the veteran community.

“Our veterans have risked their lives in combat to protect our country and our way of life,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden/Burlington. “Yet when they return stateside, they too often do not receive the services needed to transition back into civilian life – leaving many of them jobless and homeless. New Jersey residents have shown great support for this community and by allowing them an easy way to donate to them on their tax returns, we can work to get our veterans into housing and off the streets.

Currently, 20 designations are included on the State income tax return permitting taxpayers to support a variety of causes, including breast cancer research, organ donation awareness, food pantries and drug abuse education. The bill would allow taxpayers to donate a portion of their tax refund to a new fund for homeless veterans.

According to the Center for American Progress, one in seven homeless people in America is a veteran. Nationwide, there are more than one million veterans at risk of becoming homeless, with tens of thousands currently without shelter.

The measure now heads to the full Senate for consideration. The bill would take effect immediately and apply to taxable years beginning after enactment.

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