Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 384, the ``Homes for Heroes Act of 2013.'' I support this bill because it provides much needed assistance to more than 62,000 veterans who can be found homeless on any given night. I support this bill because it will help the 12,700 homeless veterans who were involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. I support this legislation because it is unacceptable that anyone who served this nation honorably in times of war should be without a home in times of peace.
The Homes for Heroes Act creates the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and charges him or her with the responsibility of ensuring that veterans have fair access to housing and homeless assistance programs at HUD in addition to coordinating HUD programs and activities of the Department relating to veterans; serving as a liaison with the Department of Veterans Affairs; serving as HUD liaison to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and State, and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations concerned with veterans.
The Special Assistant also will provide veterans information and advice regarding special housing programs for veterans and assisting them in obtaining housing or homeless assistance under programs administered by the Department.
There are over 304,000 veterans in my city of Houston, and 11,000 homeless men and women, more than 3,600 of which are veterans. These homeless veterans have fallen victim to the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and often faced difficulty entering the civilian workforce where experience in military occupations and training do not easily translate. Because of these and other difficulties, a veteran commits suicide every 65 hours.
These men and women are often single, alone, and with little family connections concentrated in large urban areas where living conditions are more likely to be poor. Forty percent of our homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic despite making up a much smaller percentage of the veteran community.
The welfare of homeless veterans of our nation, who fought in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, should always be one of our primary concerns. They should not be left to fend for themselves when they encounter difficulties upon returning home. The Homes for Heroes act help will ensure that more have a home to live in when they return home.
The sad reality is that too many of our veterans are homeless or jobless or poor. They grow younger by the year. They need our help and support. We owe it to answer the call for them.
I urge all members of the House to join in me in supporting H.R. 384, the Homes for Heroes Act of 2013.