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Public Statements

Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 6361, the Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act.

This bill is aimed at helping some of those who most deserve and need our help, our severely disabled wartime veterans who are living with service-connected disabilities. It is designed to help that relatively small population of veterans who are disabled, impoverished, and in need of constant care due to their service wounds.

They are wounded warriors who now need assistance performing the basic functions of daily life, like the simple things that most of us take for granted and perform without second thought: bathing, feeding themselves, getting dressed. They put their lives on the line for us, and it is now our turn to see to it that they are afforded every opportunity to live a life of independence and self-sufficiency.

To this end, H.R. 6361 would exempt any expenses related to veterans and benefits from consideration when they are being considered for housing assistance. The fact that the benefits are currently counted as income is an obstacle for many of our military men and women. Let's take a hypothetical case and now look at how things stand now.

A single, severely disabled veteran with no dependents who has an adjusted gross annual income of less than $12,256 can receive up to an additional $8,191 in aid and attendance benefit each year to supplement the cost of their medical care. This fix will make it just a little bit easier for our veterans to qualify for the housing assistance they need and deserve. But this bill also makes changes to current utility allowances as part of section 8 public housing assistance. Under this bill, utility allowances would be calculated and capped based on family size rather than apartment size.

Our Financial Services Committee members have been hard at work adding hardship exemptions to protect people with disabilities, the elderly, and families with children by providing them with increased utility allowances, as needed.

I commend my colleagues for their bipartisan cooperation in finding a middle ground and a solution. I also congratulate my good friend and colleague, Congressman Al Green, for his contribution to this bill. He works tirelessly on behalf of our Nation's military men and has fought especially hard to get his HAVEN bill to the floor, despite it being folded into this bill.

The HAVEN bill would establish a pilot program to provide grant funding to rehabilitate and modify the homes of low-income or disabled veterans so that wheelchair ramps, repairs, and energy-efficient features can be put in place. Helping repair the homes of our veterans before they become too sick is not just a smart policy; it is our duty. We need to do all we can to keep our veterans self-sufficient and independent, and help them transition back into civilian life as seamlessly as possible.

I will vote ``yes'' on this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mrs. MALONEY. I would like to compliment the gentleman on his statement and point out that across the country one of the largest groups of people that are homeless are veterans, and this particular bill has the right incentives to direct the housing assistance to our veterans and help to keep them in their homes.

I have no other speakers at this time, so I yield back the balance of my time.

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