This week, the House Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity passed H.R. 3298, the Homes for Heroes Act. The bill establishes a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs and an annual report on veterans' homelessness. Congressman Al Green (TX-09) introduced the Homes for Heroes Act with Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-13) on November 1, 2011.
"The Housing subcommittee has taken an important step in honoring 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. This is the least a grateful nation can do," said Congressman Al Green. "I commend my colleagues on the Housing Subcommittee for voting to provide those who have sacrificed for our country with the support they deserve."
On any given night in the United States, 649,917 persons experience homelessness. 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.
Veterans are overrepresented among the homeless population. While they account for roughly 9.5 percent of the total population of persons over the age of 18 in the United States, veterans comprised 13 percent of sheltered homeless adults in 2010 and 16 percent of homeless adults at a given point in time.
"Homelessness among veterans is a shame on our nation, but it is a shame that we can address so that no veteran is homeless. 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," indicated the Congressman.
One of the bill's key provisions establishes the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs 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.
Additionally, Homes for Heroes requires HUD to submit a comprehensive annual report to Congress on the housing needs of homeless veterans and the steps HUD has taken under the programs provided for in the bill. This section codifies this Administration's report entitled: "Veterans Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress'.
"Those who put their lives on the line to defend this great nation deserve our utmost appreciation. The Housing Subcommittee has taken an important step forward in ensuring that the brave men and women who have served our nation are hopefully able to get the long-term housing that they need," concluded Congressman Al Green.