Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today voted in favor of H.R. 3298, the Homes for Heroes Act. The bill, which was approved 414-5 establishes a new Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs position within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to better coordinate programs to aid homeless vets and requires an annual report on the issue of homelessness among America's veterans.
"This bill will help us better serve Nevada veterans living on the streets who need our help to find permanent housing. The annual report required under this legislation will increase the effectiveness of homelessness prevention programs and housing help for our veterans. These men and women sacrificed through their military service to keep our nation safe and we owe it to our veterans to do all we can to see that each of them has a place to call home," said Berkley.
While veterans account for nearly 10 percent of the adult population in the United States, these men and women comprised 13 percent of sheltered homeless adults in 2010 and 16 percent of homeless adults at a given point in time. According to a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there were nearly 76,000 homeless veterans on a single night in January of 2010, while roughly 145,000 veterans spent at least one night in a shelter during that year.
Under the Homes for Heroes Act, a new Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs would be established within HUD to coordinate services to homeless veterans and serve as a liaison to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, as well as state and local officials, and nonprofit service organizations. The bill also requires HUD to submit a comprehensive annual report to Congress on the housing needs of homeless veterans outlining the steps HUD has taken under the programs provided for in the bill.
Berkley is a leading advocate in Congress for Nevada veterans and was instrumental in securing approval and funding for the State's first full-service VA medical complex which will include a new hospital, outpatient clinic and long-term care facility. The trio of facilities in Southern Nevada will serve Silver State veterans and their families and reduce the number of vets who are forced to go out of state to seek VA care.