The U.S. Senate today gave unanimous approval to a bipartisan amendment authored by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) to help upgrade veterans' housing.
The Housing Assistance for Veterans Act (HAVEN Act) authorizes a competitive, five year, $20 million pilot program allowing non-profit organizations to apply for grants provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help make home repairs and improvements for low-income, disabled veterans. The work would include simple repairs to help keep veterans safe and healthy and out of more costly health care facilities, such as repairing roofs, floors, walls, electrical wiring, and plumbing; replacing leaky or damaged doors and windows; and installing wheelchair ramps and widening doorways and passageways. 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, such as through encouraging volunteers to help make repairs or engaging businesses to donate needed supplies.
"I am proud to have worked with Senator Johanns of Nebraska and Congressman Al Green of Texas on this amendment. The HAVEN Act will enable the federal government and non-profits to work together to support our veterans and provide them with safe and suitable housing," said Reed, a member of the Armed Services Committee.
According to Rebuilding Together, approximately 6 million of our nation's more than 22 million veterans are disabled and 1.5 million are at risk of homelessness. In Rhode Island, there are more than 19,000 veterans with disabilities, each of whom face their own unique challenges in terms of their housing needs.
While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has programs that assist these veterans in adapting and improving their homes, these programs do not extend assistance to all veterans with disabilities.
"This amendment seeks to serve all veterans with disabilities, regardless of the severity of the disability and whether the disability is service-connected," said Reed. "The HAVEN 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."
The Haven Act is supported by Rebuilding Together, VetsFirst, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Habitat for Humanity, Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, and the American Legion.