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NJ Legislature Considers Bill To Help War Vets Get Preferential Treatment to Obtain Housing [POLL]

Flikr user Fort Rucker
Flikr user Fort Rucker

How often do we ask ourselves whether we do enough for returning veterans…especially in light of Veteran’s Day being a month away?

As an answer to part of that, a bill is making its way through the legislature that would give preferential treatment in housing choices to veterans.

According to this:

Assembly Bill 1744, which has been introduced twice before, would give preference to veterans who qualify for affordable housing assistance.

It also allows municipalities to sign agreements with developers in which as many as 50 percent of the units they build would be set aside for low-income veterans.

For the first time, the bill has passed the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee after being combined with similar legislation last month. The bill has five sponsors, including Assemblymen Chris Brown and co-sponsor John Amodeo, both R-Atlantic.

A state Senate committee approved its version of the bill Sept. 24. The bills now await votes by the full Senate and Assembly.

“We should provide our veterans every opportunity to live with dignity in the community they so willingly protected with their service,” said Brown, an Army veteran who served during Operation Desert Storm. “Veterans without housing aren’t able to fully integrate and participate in their communities.”

Brown said he hopes the bill will ease the difficult transition facing veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I was fortunate,” he said. “I had a strong support group and returned to school and assimilated back into civilian life. There are friends of mine who were not as fortunate, who still carry with them the trauma of being in a combat environment.”

Something as simple as stable housing, Brown said, can go a long way toward assisting veterans in that process.

Amodeo, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the funding just isn’t available to supplement new affordable-housing projects, many of which are undertaken by nonprofits.

However, he said, the bill would at least give veterans assistance in securing housing.

“That piece of legislation is not going to solve the problem in the big picture,” he said. “But it’s going to send a message to veterans we’re looking to give them preference in housing for the sacrifices they’ve made.”

The argument against affordable housing has always been due to the “social engineering” aspect of it. Giving lower income families, who might not ordinarily be able to afford to live in certain towns a chance at a better quality of life.

However, in the case of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel we have a moral obligation to reintegrate them back into society by, at least, providing them the opportunity to obtain decent housing acknowledging the sacrifices they’ve made.

And in light of the cases where we’ve previously dropped the ball in getting them back into society; this is the least we can do.

Best of NJ 101.5

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