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Public Statements

Homes for Heroes Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. AL GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I thank my colleague, Mrs. Biggert, for her support of this legislation as well as many other pieces of legislation that we've had the privilege of working together on.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank you, as well, for your cosponsorship of the legislation. It means a lot to have bipartisan support for our warriors, those who are willing to go to distant places and risk their lives such that we may have better lives.

Many of them do not return home as they left. Many of them find themselves living on the streets of life. As a result, we believe it's necessary for us to do all that we can to help them secure the kind of homes, the kind of housing, the kinds of services that they need so that they can reintegrate themselves into American life. This bill, the Homes for Heroes bill, will help to some degree with our goals and ambitions of helping them to have a place to call home.

The bill does place a person in HUD whose sole responsibility it will be to monitor homelessness among our veterans. This person is to file an annual report with Congress on the status of homelessness among the veterans in this country and to give us some insight as to how we are progressing in eliminating and abolishing homelessness among our veterans. It's not going to do everything that we need to do, but it is a step in the right direction.

If I may say so, I would like to commend HUD for what has been done thus far, because there is a person who does this sort of thing with HUD currently. But what we're trying to do now is institutionalize the position such that administrations may come and go, but the position will still be there, and our veterans will receive the kind of help that they merit and deserve.

Mr. Speaker, in our country in 2009, approximately 136,334 people who self-identified themselves as veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or a transitional-housing program. That speaks volumes about the amount of work that we have to do.

While 136,000 may not seem like a lot to some people, I contend, if we have but one veteran who is finding himself or herself in transitional housing or sleeping in a shelter or sleeping on the streets of life, I think we have work to do. This bill will help us with our veterans who are doing this, who are sleeping in this transitional housing.

I would also add that our veterans compose about 16 percent of the homeless adults while they are 8 percent of the American population. They are 8 percent of the population, but of those who are homeless, they are 16 percent.

This, of course, is something that we cannot continue to tolerate. So I'm going to beg all of my colleagues: please, give serious consideration to this piece of legislation. It will not break the bank. It may not do all that we'd like to have done, but it's a step in the right direction, and somebody will be helped as a result of what we do today. I beg to my colleagues, please support this legislation.

I thank Mrs. Biggert for the outstanding work that she has done. I again especially thank staffers who worked with us on this piece of legislation. And I can say candidly, Mr. Speaker, that but for the assistance of our staffers, we might not be standing here today. They do make a difference. And I would have the veterans know that behind every Member, we have staffers who are working to help them return to our homeland and reintegrate them into our society.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. AL GREEN of Texas. I would simply close by saying this: Mr. Speaker, thank you again for your support of this legislation. I would hope that my colleagues will give it the kind of consideration that our warriors are giving us when they decide that they're willing to go to distant places and make great sacrifices for us. Please give it consideration.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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