A New Jersey senator who dressed as a homeless man to gain insight into the state's shelter system has proposed turning foreclosed residences into affordable housing.

Sen. Dick Codey of Essex County wants to establish a corporation to buy foreclosed properties from lenders to increase the affordable housing stock available for the homeless. It's one of several legislative initiatives the Democrat proposed on Tuesday.

When Codey went undercover as a homeless man in March, he found that people with mental illness have trouble finding a shelter to take them in.



He says the challenges of mental illness are exacerbated when people don't have a permanent home.

Among the bills that Senator Codey will be sponsoring are:  legislation to prohibit discrimination by an emergency shelter against mentally ill individuals who are not a danger to themselves or to others; legislation that prohibits emergency shelters for the homeless from refusing to provide services for a minimum of 72 hours; requiring certain Motor Vehicle surcharge revenues be dedicated to the special needs housing trust fund (S-1763); and the "New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act," establishing the "New Jersey Foreclosure Relief Corporation," which will be dedicated to the purpose of purchasing foreclosed residential properties from institutional lenders and dedicating them for occupancy as affordable housing (S-1566).

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)