Chris Christie is making headlines again. This time the New Jersey Governor is going to leave more than 3,000 terminally-ill and disabled people homeless after ending a three-year extension program designed to help people with permanent disability support.
Jeanne Chiaravello, a partially blind amputee and one of the 3,019 residents expected to be affected, says that by next month she will be homeless. Chiaravello is an example of the thousands that require permanent assistance, needing critical in-home support such as an oxygen tank to breathe and a home health aide.
The residents affected by the end of the program were part of an Emergency Assistance homelessness prevention program that expired in 2012, but were provided with a three-year extension that helped fuel hope for permanent support.
Then suddenly the Christie administration announced that the extension program was over. Many have called the stop “abrupt”, including Melville “Dee” Miller, executive director of Legal Services of New Jersey, who stated it was “the largest sudden change in policy toward people who are homeless or are at risk of being homeless since the late 80s or early 90s.”
Miller also states that “We have an affordable housing shortage of great dimensions.” Not surprising seeing as New Jersey is ranked 36 in the nation for unemployment and has the fifth most costly rent prices.
For many of the 3,000 plus residents in danger of becoming homeless who are unable to work and rely on a small fixed income, this could mean a death sentence.
This newest cutback isn’t the first Christie has called for. New Jersey has seen little or no growth since Christie took office in 2010, most likely due to the fact that the Governor has a reputation for offering tax breaks to corporations and banks – a total of more than $6 billion dollars, when the program that was keeping these people in their homes was only costing taxpayers $15 million.
As Mattie Harrel international vice president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) stated:
“The reality is that Christie is trying to balance the state’s budget on the backs of public service workers while handing out massive tax subsidies to well-heeled corporations…It’s shameless.”