Obama, Green Applaud House Passage of Bill to Aid Homeless Veterans

Press Release

By:  Barack Obama II Al Green
Date: July 10, 2008
Location: Washington, DC

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R. 3329, the Homes for Heroes Act, which will provide shelter for homeless veterans and their families and help prevent very low-income veteran families from falling into homelessness. Rep. Al Green (TX-09) worked with Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Michaud (ME-02) to introduce the Homes for Heroes Act in the House in August 2007. This afternoon, the White House issued a "Statement of Administration Policy" stating that the Davis-Bacon Act's prevailing wage requirements included in the bill will make H.R. 3329 subject to a veto by the President. The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in April 2007.

"Today, the House took an important step in honoring our military men and women by passing this critical legislation that will help eliminate homelessness and provide affordable housing opportunities for our nation's heroes. This is the least a grateful nation can do," Rep. Green said. "As the House sponsor of the Homes for Heroes Act, I especially thank Senator Barack Obama for championing this bill in the Senate and commend my colleagues in the House for voting to provide those who have sacrificed for our country with the assistance they deserve. I urge the President to reconsider his threat to veto a bill that will ensure a brighter future for all of our veterans."

"Our veterans have made incredible sacrifices for our country, and we must do everything we can to provide these heroes with housing and job opportunities when they return home," said Senator Obama. "Unfortunately, far too many of these brave men and women are living on the streets, and that is unacceptable. I am proud to support this legislation, which will go a long way in meeting our commitment to our veterans. I commend Congressman Al Green for his leadership in moving this widely-supported legislation through the House. I urge my Senate colleagues to pass this bill as soon as possible, and I call on the President to sign it into law."

On any given night in this country, 800,000 persons experience homelessness and, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), nearly 200,000 of these homeless Americans are adult veterans who live on the streets, in shelters or in community-based organizations. Nearly 400,000 veterans may experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. Of these:

* 47 percent of homeless veterans are Vietnam veterans
* Half have mental illness
* Two-thirds suffer from alcohol or other substance abuse problems
* 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African-American or Latino

"This bill not only brings to light the plight of up to 400,000 homeless veterans, it brings them one step closer to being able to say they have achieved the American dream of a home to call their own. Providing our veterans with affordable housing and supportive services is the least we can do for those who fight for us," Rep. Michaud said.

The Homes for Heroes Act will:

* Establish a $200 million assistance program for supportive housing and services for low-income veterans;
* Expand the highly successful Department of Housing and Urban Development - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, authorizing 20,000 vouchers annually and making the program permanent;
* Authorize $1 million in HUD grants to assist housing and service providers with the execution of their housing projects for veterans assisted by HUD, fulfilling the planning and application process, and assisting veterans in obtaining permanent housing or homeless assistance;
* Establish the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs within HUD to coordinate services to homeless veterans and serve as a liaison to the Department of Veterans Affairs, state and local officials, and nonprofit service organizations; and
* Require HUD to submit a comprehensive annual report to Congress on the housing needs of homeless veterans and the steps HUD has taken under the programs provided for in the bill