The homeless issue continues to grow each year in New Jersey with thousands of people out on the streets. A major effort is underway to put a stop to that once and for all. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Board recently held a special meeting to propose new rules that would provide more incentives to developers to include housing units for homeless families in their developments.

The proposed rules also aim to increase the construction of affordable units in high achieving school districts, encourage the development of mixed income properties and limit further development in areas already containing large amounts of federal and state financed low and moderate income housing.

According to Charles Richman with the Department of Community Affairs, the plan would be to “provide more incentives to developers to include housing units for currently homeless households in their development projects, as well as provide social support programs to assist them while they are in transition, set a cap to ensure wider geographic distribution of housing available to low-income families throughout New Jersey and discourage a concentration of poverty in any one area or region of the state by limiting the number of low and moderate income units in communities where there are already a high number of affordable housing units.”

Last month, Governor Christie signed Executive Order 92 creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is tasked with better identifying and addressing the needs of homeless individuals in order to strengthen existing efforts through improved coordination and delivery of programs and services to people affected by homelessness. The Council, which is co-chaired by the Commissioners of the Departments of Community Affairs and Human Services, will operate until December 31, 2014, at which time it will submit a 10-year plan to end homelessness in New Jersey.

Richman explains “everything the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency is doing is in lockstep with Governor Christie’s plan. We are thrilled about these developments and think it will help to stop homelessness for many around the state.”

The proposed changes will be discussed at a public hearing that has not yet been announced. Richman says it will take place within the next three months, have a written comment period and will be open for 60 days at the time of the hearing for discussion.