SENATE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

[Second Reprint]

ASSEMBLY, No. 2098

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  DECEMBER 14, 2017

 

      The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No. 2098 (2R).

      This bill would require the Commissioner of Community Affairs to establish and operate a project-based voucher pilot program under the federal Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program for veterans and their families who are confronting homelessness or are residing in unsafe housing.  The Section 8 Housing Voucher Program assists in making safe and quality housing in the private rental market affordable to low, and very low-income households by reducing housing costs through direct rent subsidy payments to landlords. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

      The bill would require the Commissioner of Community Affairs to annually allocate to the pilot program at least 1.5 percent of the unencumbered amount the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides to the State Department of Community Affairs’ Housing Choice Voucher Program for five years.

      According to the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, New Jersey has among its homeless population an estimated 1,000 veterans of the United States Armed Forces

      As reported, this bill is identical to Senate Bill No. 1988 (1R), as also reported by the committee.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:

      The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) notes that the bill will have no impact on State finances and may require the reallocation of federal funds awarded to New Jersey for the 2018 Housing Choice Voucher Program.  Approximately $3.9 million in Housing Choice Voucher Program funds remain unencumbered as of December 8, 2017.  Based on these data, the OLS estimates that the maximum amount that may be reserved for the pilot program is $58,500.

      Any project-based rental assistance vouchers awarded through the pilot program would supplement approximately 1,200 project-based and tenant based vouchers for veterans that the State has reserved or managed through various State and federal programs, such as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, State Rental Assistance Program, and the Statewide Housing First Initiative.  According to the point-in-time estimates released by HUD as part of the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, there were 583 homeless veterans in New Jersey as of January 2017.