(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Cleopatra G. Tucker, Andrew Zwicker, Pamela Lampitt, Angela McKnight and Joann Downey that would give New Jersey veterans affordable housing assistance preference has been signed into law.
The law (A-2088) ensures that New Jersey veterans and surviving spouses receive priority status for affordable public housing. Specifically, the law requires the Division of Housing and Community Resources in the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in consultation with the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to provide preferential status to veterans who qualify for public housing assistance.
“To fight so hard for the country you love only to come home and find that you no longer have a place in it is simply beyond the pale,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson), who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve following the 9/11 attacks. “If this legislation helps keep a roof over the head of even one vet, then it’s well worth doing.”
“We do not ignore the sacrifices that our fighting men and women make on the front lines for our freedoms,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “We should not find ourselves ignoring them when they return home. Our returning veterans deserve affordable housing, and hopefully this will go a long way toward addressing that fact.”
“No one who served in this nation’s military should be without a home,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “By making public housing more accessible to veterans in New Jersey, our state can act on its obligation to end homelessness among veterans.”
“When veterans who have fallen on hard times are trying to get back on their feet, simply having a place to call home can be a major source of stability,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This legislation can help get veterans in New Jersey off the streets and on the road to permanent housing.”
“Particularly for veterans who may be dealing with joblessness, disabilities, post-traumatic stress and other challenges, finding safe, affordable housing can be a struggle,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “This law is about showing reverence for their service and making an effort to ensure one of their most basic needs is met.”
“Too many service members return to civilian life to find they have no home and feel like there’s nowhere to turn,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “With this legislation, New Jersey is answering the call of those who didn’t hesitate when our nation called on them.”
Under the law, public housing is considered to be any housing project in the state financed by the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, public housing authorities, redevelopment agencies and the DCA, when it is acting as a public housing authority.
The measure received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature.