This week, Congressman Al Green (TX-09) introduced two amendments which focus on housing counseling and the Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 1473).
Congressman Al Green's first amendment seeks to increase funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Counseling Assistance program by $88 million. Under the Republican Continuing Resolution, funding for this successful program will be eliminated. In recent years, the majority of housing counseling activities funded by HUD have been related to homeownership counseling, including pre-purchase and post-purchase counseling, as well as mortgage delinquency counseling.
"We cannot afford to cut this critical assistance at a time when our housing market is still in the recovery process and so many homeowners are struggling to keep their homes. The housing market and the housing industry would be significantly affected if this program is eliminated," said Congressman Al Green.
The Congressman also contends that eliminating HUD's Housing Counseling Assistance program could fuel an increase in the number of foreclosures, a major issue of concern during this period of economic recovery. According to industry analysts, 2.9 million homes entered into foreclosure last year and it is estimated that one in four homeowners owe more than their homes are worth.
Congressman Al Green's second amendment seeks to increase funding for HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers by $25 million. If approved, this additional funding would ensure vouchers are provided to assist approximately 2,500 more veterans increasing the total number of VASH vouchers to approximately 10,000. The amendment is necessary because under the current Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R. 1), which passed the House on February 19, 2011, the HUD-VASH program is not funded.
"Many American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will need housing when they get home. Additionally, many of our veterans and military personnel are already in need of housing. These statistics clearly show why we must continue to fund the HUD-VASH program," noted the Congressman who also highlighted evidence which indicates that, nationwide, more than 76,000 veterans are homeless.
The HUD-VASH program combines tenant-based voucher assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs at its medical centers in local communities.