Congressman Al Green's (TX-09) Homes for Heroes Act will be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives today.
Homes for Heroes (H.R. 3298) establishes the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and tasks HUD with an annual report on veteran homelessness. The bill is co-sponsored with Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-13).
"Homelessness among veterans is a shame on our nation, but it is a shame that we can address so that no veteran is homeless," said Congressman Green. "The Homes for Heroes Act will improve the coordination of services for homeless veterans and require annual assessments that will help prevent low-income veterans from falling into homelessness."
According to HUD's data, veterans represent up to 15 percent of America's homeless population and the majority of them reside in emergency centers, rather than in transitional facilities.
One of the most worrisome aspects of homelessness among veterans is that the length of time they remain homeless has critical effects on their health. In this regard, a November 2011 survey conducted by the National Center on Veteran Homelessness concluded that among the 62 percent of homeless veterans who reported 2 or more years of homelessness, 76 percent reported a substance abuse habit, over 60 percent reported a serious physical health condition, 55 percent reported a mental health condition and 32 percent reported all three.
Congressman Green's bill establishes the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs in HUD to coordinate services to homeless veterans and serve as a liaison between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, state and local officials, and nongovernmental organizations.
Additionally, Homes for Heroes requires HUD to submit to Congress a comprehensive annual report on the housing needs of homeless veterans. The report must specifiy the number of veterans who receive assistance through the Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (VASH) program and their socioeconomic characteristics.
"Those who put their lives on the line to defend this great nation deserve our utmost appreciation," Congressman Green said. "I urge the House of Representatives to honor our military men and women by passing this critical legislation that will help eliminate homelessness and enhance the coordination of federal housing programs for our nation's heroes."