Legislation co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin to make information about homeless prevention programs and services available online was approved Monday by the General Assembly.
The bill (A-448) would require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to prepare and make available on the department's website, in an easily printable format, information on all municipal, county, state and federal homeless prevention programs and services available to a homeless person or to a person who is at imminent risk of homelessness and who is not eligible for, or does not qualify to receive, municipal, county, state, or federal social or public assistance services.
The bill would require that the information be updated whenever necessary.
“Sometimes people will complain about the lack of services, but often the problem is not that they don’t exist, but that they are not reaching the people they need to reach,” Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Publicizing this information more widely will help this disconnect.”
The bill would require that the information include, but not be limited to, a list, by county, of: grant programs and homeless intervention programs that provide assistant services to homeless veterans, homeless persons, and persons at imminent risk of homelessness; homeless services provided by the Departments of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), Children and Families (DCF), Human Services (DHS), and Health (DOH); and other municipal, county, state, or federal housing and homeless prevention programs that provide supportive services to homeless persons or those at imminent risk of homelessness.
Under the amended bill, DCA is to require the following entities to conspicuously post and provide this information, at no cost, to homeless persons and those at imminent risk of homelessness: county and municipal welfare agencies, Division of Child Protection and Permanency local offices, veterans service offices, emergency shelters for the homeless, health care facilities, state psychiatric hospitals, crisis intervention units, screening services, libraries, and community-based outreach programs and nonprofit organizations providing housing and homeless prevention services in the state.
The bill would require that DCA ensure, in consultation with DCF, DHS, DOH and DMVA, that: the information posted on the DCA website be available on each department’s website, and be updated as necessary; and a link to the information be posted to the Internet website of every county and municipal welfare agency, DCPP local office, and veterans service offices in the state.
As used in the bill, "homeless person" means a teen, a young adult, a veteran, an unemployed or underemployed person, a person with mental illness, or a person with developmental disabilities who is living outside, or in a building not meant for human habitation or which the person has no legal right to occupy, or in an emergency shelter, or in a temporary housing program which may include a transitional and supportive housing program if habitation time limits exist, or temporarily in the home of another household, or in a motel.
Under the bill, DCA, in consultation with DCF, DHS, DOH and DMVA, would be permitted to adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the bill’s purposes.
The bill, also co-sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Gabriela Mosquera, Jerry Green, Cleopatra Tucker, Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Annette Quijano, Benjie Wimberly and Mila Jasey, was approved 73-0-0 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.