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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 full Senate and now heads to the Governor.

“It is a real tragedy that so many of our veterans, after sacrificing so much for our freedom, do not have a place to call home,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “This is particularly concerning now when temperatures can drop well below freezing and these men and women are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite on the streets. Taxpayers throughout the state should easily be able to pitch in, show their support and help these men and women by donating a portion of their tax refunds to the ‘Homeless Veterans Fund.’”

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.

“For those men and women who served courageously in the armed forces, transitioning back into civilian life can be difficult, leaving some jobless and homeless. It is our duty as a grateful state to show them our support,” said SenatorBeach, D-Camden and Burlington. “Organizations throughout the state use the easy check off on tax returns to raise funds for vital programs. Programs to end veteran homeless should have the same option.  By adding a check off for the ‘Homeless Veterans Fund’ on New Jersey residents’ tax returns, we can help raise money to get these men and women 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 was approved by the Senate with a vote of 39-0.

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