Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Jamel Holley and Yvonne Lopez designed to reduce homelessness and help New Jersey residents get back on their feet was approved Thursday by the full Assembly, 72-0.
The bill (A-1277) requires hospitals and homeless shelters to provide information on services and resources to individuals who are homeless or military veterans.
“Homelessness is a continuing and visible social problem that requires each of us to be vigilant and help where we can,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “We must ensure that the information for state programs which help homeless residents and veterans are getting to the people who need these resources.”
Specifically, hospitals licensed in the state will be required to inquire, as part of the hospital’s patient intake process, whether the individual seeking services is homeless or is a military veteran. In the event that the individual responds in the affirmative, the hospital is to provide the individual with information concerning special services and resources that are available to the individual based on the individual’s status as homeless or as a military veteran.
“By working together with the hospitals and shelters, we can connect residents to the right people and help them get back on their feet,” said Holley (D-Union). “New Jersey is home to nearly 9,000 homeless residents. The more we can encourage these entities to work together to share resources with residents, the closer we come to putting an end to homelessness in the state.”
“New Jersey has been working hard to address the issue of homelessness, and the state has seen a substantial decrease in homeless residents since 2015,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “This legislation takes the extra step of helping the homeless and veterans gain additional access to programs and services by requiring hospitals and shelters to inform them of state resources.”
Emergency shelters for the homeless will be required to inquire, as part of the client intake process, whether the individual who is to receive services is a military veteran. In the event that the individual responds in the affirmative, the shelter is to provide the individual with information concerning special services and resources that are available to the individual based on the individual’s status as a military veteran.
Hospitals and shelters will be required to establish standard protocols and procedures for making inquiries and providing information as required by the bill.
The Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs approved the bill on February 12. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.