Codey’s homeless shelter bills draw CVs

TRENTON – Two bills that emanated from state Sen. and former governor Dick Codey’s efforts to expose problems experienced by homeless people drew conditional vetoes from the governor Monday.

Gov. Chris Christie issued CVs to both S1888/A2928 and S1889/A2937, which dealt with how homeless shelters operate.

The first would have required emergency shelters to admit people with mental illnesses unless they pose a danger.

The second would have prevented shelters from refusing to provide services for a minimum period of 72 hours unless they were already at capacity.

In part, the bills came out of Codey’s experiences in March 2012 when he posed as a homeless person to expose problems with the system in the state. 

Among many of the issues he said he encountered, the most pressing was the inability of those with mental illness to find a shelter that would take them in; thousands of those with mental illness go to bed every night in New Jersey without a roof over their head, Codey said at the time.

But Christie said in his CV message today that the bill lacks standards for determining whether a person suffers from a mental illness and how much danger the person represents.

Christie said that adding guidelines will benefit homeless people as well as the shelter staff “faced with delicate and sensitive decisions.”

His message regarding S1889 was similar. He said that it lacked guidelines for shelters to determine when it would be appropriate to turn someone away.

“We should not create a climate of fear and distrust in our shelters,” he said in his CV message.

As with the first bill, he suggested new wording that he said would specify reasonable standards.

Reached late this afternoon about the CV language, Codey said that on the one hand, “it looks like minimal changes,’’ but also, he said, he was disappointed that no one from the governor’s office reached out to him.

Reflecting on the fact that it took more than a year to get the bills passed, he said a great deal of work went into them, including his posing as a homeless person early last year to dramatize the need for change.

He said he and his staff were still reviewing the CV message to see whether they can concur with Christie’s recommendations.

Codey’s homeless shelter bills draw CVs