U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th) today congratulated Hines VA Hospital -- which serves veterans in Biggert's suburban Chicago district -- on receiving $760,000 to provide housing to homeless veterans. The funds were awarded as part of $72.6 million in federal grants announced today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans housing and case management at public housing agencies across the country.
"Sadly, veterans make up approximately one-fifth of our country's homeless population," said Biggert, co-chair of the U.S. House Congressional Caucus on Homelessness. "Readapting to civilian life is not always easy, but research shows that with a stable living situation, our veterans are far more likely to overcome other challenges. These men and women braved bullets and basic training to protect our country and our freedom. They have the will and the strength to overcome any obstacle, but it's our job to give them the tools to do it."
According to VA officials, today's grant will allow Hines to provide 100 local homeless veterans with 12 months of stable housing in the Chicago area. Administered through HUD's Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH), the grant comes one day after the House approved H.R. 3298, the Homes for Heroes Act of 2011, legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Biggert to foster greater coordination between HUD and the VA in the fight to end veteran homelessness.
According to Biggert, the Homes for Heroes Act will help curb veteran homelessness by ensuring that HUD and the VA are working hand-in-hand on housing assistance. Specifically, the bill establishes a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs within HUD to effectively coordinate services and serve as HUD's liaison to the VA, as well as the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, state, local and non-profit organizations. The bill also requires HUD to submit an annual report to Congress on the housing needs of homeless veterans and the steps HUD will take to meet those needs.
"We can never repay our veterans for the selfless sacrifices they've made, but we can work to ensure they have a place to call home when they return from serving our country," said Biggert.