Gov. Chris Christie says his administration will issue 500 rental assistance vouchers as part of a program to help New Jersey's homeless population.

The Republican said in a statement on Wednesday the vouchers would be available to the chronically homeless as well as some families who use public assistance.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fields questions at a wide-ranging news conference, March 3, 2016 at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

"The issue of homelessness has been a critical priority for my Administration and we have been working to coordinate the delivery of services more strategically," Christie said.

Christie says the expansion shows the state is doing new things to address chronic homelessness, which the federal government defines chronic homelessness as an individual with a disability living in a shelter or without a house continuously for a year or on at least four separate occasions in the last three years.

State data show New Jersey had about 10,200 homeless people in 2015, compared with nearly 11,800 in 2014.

The program announced on Wednesday allocates 400 vouchers for the chronically homeless and 100 for homeless veterans.

The state Department of Community Affairs estimates the program will cost $5.4 million, with $250,000 under a block grant.

The program also sets income limits of 30 percent of median income in an area for 75 percent of participants in the program, according to the department. Median income in New Jersey overall in 2015 was about $72,000.

The remaining program participants must not exceed 40 percent of the federally set low-income limits by county.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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