BY RAMONA DU HOUX
January 25, 2013
On January 23rd, Representative Mike Michaud, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Representative Al Green (TX-09) reintroduced two bills that would impact homelessness among veterans: H.R. 384, the Homes for Heroes Act, and H.R. 385, the Housing Assistance for Veterans Act (HAVEN Act).
“No one deserves to be without a home, especially those who have served and sacrificed for our country,” said Michaud. “These bills will help our veterans find sustainable and affordable housing that meets their needs.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that our nation has 22.2 million veterans. Of this number, 4.3 million are homeowners who have disabilities and 2.7 million are elderly veterans. Many disabled veterans face disproportionate housing costs, and are either at risk of becoming homeless, or are already experiencing homelessness.
“I care passionately about veterans having all the resources a grateful nation can provide them to maintain their productiveness and role in society,” said Green. “Legislation to support our brave veterans transcends partisanship as well as ideology in Congress and should remain one of the top priorities for a government that asks so much of them.”
The HAVEN Act of 2013 would establish grant awards for accommodating the functional limitations that result from having a disability. Accommodations would include: installing wheelchair ramps as well as widening exterior and interior doors. The grants will greatly assist veterans, as nonprofit housing organizations are able to leverage more than $3 for every $1 in federal funding received.
The Homes for Heroes Act of 2013 aims to help prevent low-income veteran families from falling into homelessness. The bill establishes a Special Assistant for Veterans’ Affairs and an annual report on veterans’ homelessness. The Special Assistant would coordinate all the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) programs and activities relating to veterans and serve as a HUD liaison with the VA.
“Homelessness among our veterans is a preventable condition that we must address, such that no veteran is homeless,” Congressman Al Green said. “The Homes for Heroes Act of 2013 will improve the coordination of services for homeless veterans and require annual assessments that will help prevent low-income veterans from falling into homelessness.”