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Mr. REED. Mr. President, today I am introducing the Housing Assistance for Veterans Act along with my colleague Senator JOHANNS.
Our veterans have made many personal sacrifices in service to our nation. We must honor our commitment to provide them with the care they have earned and deserved, in both word and deed. One such way is to ensure that they have access to adequate housing.
According to Rebuilding Together, more than a quarter of all veterans, about six million, are estimated to be disabled. In my home State of Rhode Island, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 19,000 veterans with disabilities, each of whom face their own unique challenges in terms of their housing needs.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, VA, has programs that assist these veterans in adapting and improving their homes. Unfortunately, these programs do not extend assistance to all veterans with disabilities. It is clear we must do more, and with this legislation, we are seeking to serve all veterans with disabilities, regardless of the severity of the disability and whether the disability is service-connected. The Housing Assistance for Veterans Act will give them the opportunity to renovate and modify their existing homes by installing wheelchair ramps, widening doors, re-equipping rooms, and making necessary additions and adjustments to existing structures, all so that these homes are both more suitable and safer for our veterans.
Our legislation encourages key stakeholders, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the VA, housing non-profits, and veterans service organizations, to work together to serve our veterans. In order to extend the reach of this Federal funding, grant recipients would be expected to either match Federal funding or make in-kind contributions, through encouraging volunteers to help make repairs or engaging businesses to donate needed supplies.
This bill is supported by Rebuilding Together, VetsFirst, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Habitat for Humanity. I thank Senator JOHANNS for working with me on this important bill, and I look forward to working with him and the rest of our colleagues to pass this legislation.