Obama Introduces Bill to Help Get Homeless Veterans Off the Streets
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today introduced the Homes for Heroes Act, which would greatly expand access to long-term, affordable housing for veterans.
"Each and every night, more than 200,000 of our nation's veterans are homeless," said Obama. "More than 400,000 will experience homelessness over the course of a year, but our government is doing far too little to help get these veterans off the streets."
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that one in every three homeless adult males is a veteran. Illinois is one of seven states with more than 10,000 homeless veterans. If national estimates are true in Illinois, the number of homeless veterans in Chicago is 38,000 over the course of a year. Despite the tremendous demand for homeless services, the federal government serves only a tiny fraction of those who are in need.
Senator Obama's legislation would help expand access to long-term affordable housing by creating a $225 million assistance fund so that community and nonprofit organizations can purchase, build or rehabilitate homes and apartments for veterans. The legislation would also greatly expand successful existing veterans rental assistance programs and create a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to coordinate services to homeless veterans.
"Every day in America, we walk past men and women on street corners with handwritten signs that say 'Homeless Veteran-Will Work For Food,'" said Obama. "Sometimes we give a dollar, sometimes we just keep walking. These are soldiers who fought in World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq. They made a commitment to their country when they chose to serve - and now we must keep our commitment to them. Because when we make the decision to send our troops to war, we also make the decision to care for them, to speak for them, and to think of them - always - when they come home."
Senator Obama is a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.