April 18, 2012 - Combating Homelessness in New Jersey; Governor Christie Is Committed to Protecting New Jersey's Most Vulnerable Citizens
Combating Homelessness In New Jersey
Governor Christie Is Committed To Protecting New Jersey's Most Vulnerable Citizens
"We are taking action to not only more effectively address the needs of homeless New Jerseyans across every aspect of state government, but also to find the shortcomings in how we identify and meet the many different causes of homelessness. Ultimately, I believe that as leaders we must set high, achievable goals for the serious challenges we face, which is why the Council will also be charged with developing a 10-year plan to combat homeless over the long-term."
– Governor Chris Christie, On His Executive Order Creating The Interagency Council on Homelessness, April 18, 2012
Combating Homelessness In A More Efficient, Coordinated And Strategic Manner:
Governor Chris Christie has signed an Executive Order creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness to combat homelessness as part of the administration's commitment to protecting the most vulnerable New Jerseyans. The Governor's action will mobilize the state government in a more efficient, coordinated and strategic manner around the goal of combating homelessness in the state.
The Council is tasked with better identifying and addressing the needs of homeless New Jerseyans as part of a long term plan to help assist those individuals affected by homelessness. Its duties and responsibilities include:
· A review of the findings contained in the Interim Report of the Council on Preventing and Reducing Homelessness;
· Identifying and evaluating the statutory and regulatory impediments to the effective delivery of services to homeless individuals and families;
· Providing recommendations to improve relevant laws, programs and policies to better utilize state resources directed to homelessness and homelessness prevention;
· Reporting annually to the Governor on the Council's work and progress; and
· Preparing a 10-year plan to combat homelessness in New Jersey.
Expanding The Veterans Haven Program:
The Christie Administration is expanding the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs successful Veterans Haven program to provide access to veterans in the northern part of the state. The Veterans Transitional Housing Program – Veterans Haven – is a facility for homeless veterans. After being medically evaluated at a VA Medical Center, eligible veterans participate in a long-term program focusing on psychological, social and vocational rehabilitation.
· The Christie Administration is expanding the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs successful Veterans Haven program to provide access to veterans in the northern part of the state at the recently closed Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital.
· Startup funds totaling $2.3 million are included in DMAVA's and Human Services' fiscal year 2013 budgets for treatment services.
o Federal funding through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will allow DMAVA to provide housing, health services and social and vocational rehabilitation to approximately 50 homeless veterans.
· The Veterans Haven facility in Gloucester County has helped nearly a thousand homeless veterans since opening in 1995.
o Three of every four veterans who complete the program remain off the streets for good and return to purposeful lives.
o The facility recently underwent a 20,000-square-foot expansion to serve an additional 44 homeless veterans.
Providing Housing Assistance To Those In Need:
Governor Christie's Fiscal Year 2013 budget reaffirms his commitment to protecting the state's most vulnerable citizens by maintaining funding for a variety of housing assistance for low-income New Jerseyans.
· State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP). Governor Christie is providing funding for SRAP at $21 million in fiscal year 2013, which helps low-income residents afford housing by providing rental assistance grants to individuals and families.
· Homelessness Prevention Program. This program provides financial assistance to low- and moderate-income tenants and homeowners in imminent danger of eviction or foreclosure due to temporary financial problems beyond their control. Governor Christie's fiscal year 2013 budget protects funding at $4.4 million.
· Shelter Assistance. In fiscal year 2013, the Christie Administration will provide $2.3 million in assistance to homeless shelters in the state.
· Assistance for Needy Families. In addition to these programs to assist homeless families and prevent homelessness, DHS serves many homeless residents through its General Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs. Both provide supports that include temporary shelter placement, rental assistance, medical coverage, food assistance and job training. The Governor's fiscal year 2013 budget protects $78.6 million in funding for the WorkFirst New Jersey program, part of TANF, which helps people get off welfare, secure employment and become self-sufficient through job training, education and work activities.
Providing The Necessary Resources To Address And Prevent Homelessness:
Shelter Support Grants: In December 2011, the Christie Administration announced the award of 37 Shelter Support grants totaling $3,830,265 in both state and federal funding to nonprofit and local government agencies operating emergency homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities located throughout New Jersey.
· It is estimated that these shelters and transitional housing facilities will assist approximately 3,000 households over the next year.
· These grants will be used to create additional bed space, address life safety issues, abate code violations and support the 1,652 beds in existing homeless shelters and transitional housing, resulting in improved living conditions for homeless individuals, victims of domestic violence and military veterans.
Homelessness Prevention Grants: In November 2011, the Christie Administration announced the award of 10 Homelessness Prevention grants totaling $1.2 million to nonprofit agencies administering Homelessness Prevention Programs.
The agencies will use the state-funded grants to provide assistance to low and moderate-income tenants who are in imminent danger of eviction because of temporary or extraordinary financial circumstances.