Menendez, Sires introduce legislation to keep funding for homelessness local

Menendez, Sires introduce legislation to keep funding for homelessness local


By:  John Heinis
Hudson County View

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) introduced legislation that will keep funding for homeless initiatives, Emergency Solutions Grants, under local government control.

“We must ensure that local governments have the resources necessary to combat homelessness and provide residents with the opportunities to live a successful life. That means keeping critical resources – like Emergency Solutions Grants – local,” Menendez said in a statement.

“As a former mayor, I can tell you that local and county governments know their communities best; they understand the challenges their constituents face and the most effective ways to help them succeed.”

ESG funding for cities and urban counties is determined by the amount of money a city or county received in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) in the previous fiscal year.

If a city or county is on track to receive minimal ESG funding, the funding is then redirected to the state. The state, however, is not required to redistribute funds to the city or county that lost out on ESG funding.

The “Local Solutions to Ending Homelessness Act of 2019” would remedy this issue by ensuring cities and counties get their fair share of funding.

Specifically, in instances where a city or county’s funds are reallocated to the state under the current law, the bill would reallocate that funding directly to the county in which the city is located, keeping the money in local government control.

Furthermore, any reallocation of funding would be subject to a county’s agreement and demonstrated history of administering ESG funds.

“Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding provides critical community services that keep individuals on a path to stability and success. Local officials are best equipped to understand the unique needs of a person experiencing homelessness and the opportunities in their neighborhoods that will help them thrive,” added Sires.

“This legislation is essential to creating a robust effort in the 8th District to end homelessness and ensure all members of our community have a safe, affordable place to call home.”

With this new legislation, urban counties in New Jersey, such as Hudson County, will be able to keep control of ESG funding in order to administer community-based homeless assistance and prevention services.

“It’s simple: Providing these additional funds directly to counties will empower us to address the very specific needs identified within the communities we serve every day and know best,” exclaimed Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.

“We are very lucky to be served by such an effective and proactive Senator and Congressman, and I look forward to working with them to get this bill signed into law.”

ESG funding is distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and aims to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The funding to can be used for a variety of homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing services.

In particular, ESG funds can be used for services such as employment counseling, health care and educational services; assistance with rent or utility payments; and housing relocation and stabilization services for homeless families or families at risk of becoming homeless.

Back in September, DeGise, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver (D) and at least a dozen other local officials came to the Brennan Courthouse in Jersey City to announce the “Hudson County Familiar Faces” program – a new, multi-faceted homelessness prevention initiative.