New Jerseyans would be able to make a voluntary donation on their gross income tax return to support homeless veterans under a bill that's been released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  The measure is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Daniel Benson, Whip Wilson, Angel Fuentes and Annette Quijano.

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"We cannot be indifferent to the plight of these brave men and women, who did what their duty required and fought for our country and our freedoms while their own lives suffered," said Singleton.  "If every individual in the state gave a dollar, the term 'homeless veteran' might no longer be applicable in New Jersey."

"These are soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.  They are heroes," said Benson.  "And some of these heroes now need our help to keep a roof over their heads.  This fund not only helps raise awareness of their plight, it will help some veterans get back on their feet."

"How embarrassing and maddening it must be for our veterans to have fought to keep our freedoms intact overseas and then to come back to find that they are powerless to keep a roof over their families," said Wilson.  "Our veterans fought to protect the American dream yet are coming home to a nightmare.  Our donations can and will help."

“To see some of our fighting men and women who have sacrificed so much for us be reduced to homelessness because of their devotion to our country is just plain wrong,” said Fuentes.  “Legislation like this can help set thing right, however, by calling attention to the problem and giving concerned residents a direct way to help.”

“How can we tell someone that fought to defend our homes that they no longer have one to come back to,” said Quijano.  “We can’t and we shouldn’t.  And maybe, if enough people chip in a few dollars from their income tax return, we won’t have to in the future.”

The "New Jersey Homeless Veterans Grant Program Act" would establish a special Homeless Veterans Grant Fund in the state Department of Treasury which would be funded by voluntary gross income tax contributions from New Jersey residents.  The treasury would disburse the money in the fund annually in to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs which would then award grants to organizations that assist homeless veterans in New Jersey. The grants would be distributed on a competitive basis.