New Jersey Signs Legislation Allowing Hospitals to Construct Housing, Provide Supplemental Resources to the Homeless

By: Helena Perray, Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. — Last week, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that will allow hospitals to construct housing and provide supplemental resources to New Jerseyans facing homelessness.

In an effort to positively impact the health outcomes of state residents, the bill will provide safe housing near local hospitals for community members experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. It will also give residents access to wrap-around services, which are used to provide skill-building resources and support to the youth in these vulnerable populations.

“Stable, quality housing and access to wrap-around resources have a significant impact on health outcomes,” Gov. Murphy said in a release. “As New Jersey emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused severe economic and social disruption, we must think creatively about ways to reduce housing instability and improve access to services. I commend my partners in the Legislature for their efforts to eliminate housing insecurity and improve the health of New Jerseyans.”

According to the state’s last Point-In-Time Count – taken in January 2020 – New Jersey saw a rise in homelessness from 2019. There was a total of 9,663 people experiencing homelessness at the time the data was collected, and, among this total, 1,743 were chronically homeless.

By providing residents with proper housing, they are given a secure place to rest and rehabilitate after receiving necessary treatments or services from the hospital. According to Health Affairs, individuals are more likely to experience issues with their psychological well-being, including increased stress, depression, or the development of substance dependencies, without this housing security.

“Providing a stable living environment to housing insecure people is a great way we can ensure compliance with medical treatment plans,” Assemblyman Herb Conaway said in a release. “Homes represent secure spaces for the ongoing management of chronic conditions and the application of critical services in the areas of health education, nutrition, life skills and job training.” 

Because the absence of stable living conditions can negatively impact someone’s physical and emotional well-being, this bill serves as part of the state’s continued effort to support the health and wellness of families in need following the financial devastation of COVID-19.

“Giving homeless people access to housing and comprehensive social support in order to improve their overall health really works,” Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson said in a release. “Helping people in our communities avoid the harsh and dangerous conditions they would otherwise face without a home is the compassionate and logical thing to do to set them up for a safer, healthier life.” 

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.