The first of two new laws benefitting veterans in New Jersey is the Securing Electronic Records for Veterans Ease (SERVE) Act. As reported by TAPinto.net in a recent article, “New Law Will Assist NJ Veterans with Housing, Legal Services,” landlords will now be required to include federal military or veteran housing allowances as income, when evaluating potential tenants, if they are either military service members or veterans.
“The benefit of this law is that it will help veterans secure rental housing,” said John Armato (D-Atlantic). “It is also beneficial to those military service members or veterans that are full-time students who often have limited or no income.”
“Our veterans have made so many sacrifices for our country,” said Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “We should always look for ways to make their lives easier. They have earned and deserve such consideration.”
The second law modifies the current law for the New Jersey Homeless Veterans Grant Program. It directs the Adjutant General of the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (funds permitting) to enter into contracts with public or private entities to fund some of the legal services that these entities provide to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness.
“New Jersey has between 1,500 and 2,000 homeless veterans,” said Armato, a U.S. Air Force veteran, who served in the Philippines Islands and Korea. “These statistics are unacceptable, and this law looks to correct such disturbing figures by helping these veterans get the services that they need and deserve.”
The Adjutant General would make certain that, to the extent practicable, contracts signed under this section are made with entities located in the northern, central, and southern regions of the state. The legal services would include legal services for the following:
- Housing issues, including eviction defense, representation in landlord-tenant cases and representation in foreclosure cases;
- Family law, including assistance in legal proceedings for child support, divorce, estate planning and family reconciliation;
- Income support including assistance in obtaining public benefits; and
- Criminal defense, including for matters symptomatic of homelessness, like outstanding warrants, fines and driver’s license revocation.
The bill also calls for helping vets with any other legal services, as the Adjutant General deems appropriate.
“Sadly, our veterans comprise some of the highest rates of unemployment, homelessness and suicide in our communities,” said Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset) who served in the U.S. Army Reserves’ 78th Division here in New Jersey and comes from a long line of veterans in his family.
Both of these laws take effect immediately. The legislation is considered a step in the right direction, but there needs to be more work done to help veterans and service members.
Reference: TAPinto.net (August 5, 2019) “New Law Will Assist NJ Veterans with Housing, Legal Services”
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