17 Dec BPC Action Applauds Bipartisan, Bicameral Efforts to House Veterans in Housing
Great strides have been made towards reducing the number of veterans experiencing homelessness over the past decade, thanks in part to strong support for evidence-based interventions and robust intergovernmental and interagency coordination. Yet, as BPC recently spotlighted in an event and blog, nearly 40,000 veterans still experience homelessness throughout the United States on any given night—an unacceptable reality for those who selflessly served our country.
BPC Action is pleased to see lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, in the House and Senate, advance proposals to ensure all veterans have a place to call home. Though varied in their approaches, the following bills would help to better meet the housing needs of America’s veterans and represent a strong bipartisan commitment to end veterans’ homelessness once and for all:
H.R. 492, the Supporting Veteran Families in Need Act: Introduced by Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the Supporting Veteran Families in Need Act would permanently authorize VA’s Supportive Services Veteran Families (SSVF) program, which provides grants that help low-income veterans secure housing and other assistance.
H.R. 876/S.612, the Improving Housing Outcomes for Veterans Act: Introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and Dave Joyce (R-OH), this legislation is aimed at improving coordination and data sharing between HUD and VA in administering homelessness assistance to veterans. S. 612 was unanimously passed out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in July 2021.
H.R. 1257, the Homeless Veterans CREDIT Act: Introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) with the support of nine Democratic cosponsors and two Republicans, the Homeless Veterans CREDIT Act would require the VA to conduct a comprehensive study on access to, and use and effects of, financial and credit counseling for homeless veterans and veterans experiencing housing instability. The legislation passed the House of Representatives in June 2021, under suspension of the rules and without objection, and is awaiting the consideration of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
H.R. 2419, the Affordable Housing for Homeless Veterans Act: Reps. Tracey Mann (R-KS) and Chris Pappas (D-NH) would allow the VA to sell, lease, rent, or donate homes that have been acquired through foreclosure to veterans as well as public housing authorities and providers that help house veterans and their families. The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed the bill in May 2021.
S. 1838, the Building Credit Access for Veterans Act: Introduced by Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the Building Credit Access for Veterans Act aims to test whether using alternative credit scoring information would improve veterans’ creditworthiness and enhance access to loans.
S. 2172, the Building Solutions for Veterans Experiencing Homelessness Act: Introduced by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Patty Murray (D-WA), this legislation was passed unanimously out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in July 2021. A number of the provisions within the bill have also been introduced as bipartisan legislation in the House, namely:
- H.R. 240, Homeless Veterans with Children Reintegration Act: This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) along with 22 Democratic and two Republican cosponsors, would direct DOL to prioritize homeless veterans with dependent children within the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. It passed the House under suspension in May 2021 and awaits action by the Senate.
- H.R. 5301 was introduced and sponsored by Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) to provide training and technical assistance to entities receiving VA grants with the expectation that recipients would provide “comprehensive service programs” to very low-income families in permanent housing.
- H.R. 5606, the Return Home to Housing Act: Introduced by Reps. Nikema Williams (D-GA), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), the bill would raise the maximum allowable rate that the VA can reimburse to service providers for supplying transitional housing to veterans.
BPC Action applauds the sponsors of these bills and their recognition that all veterans, regardless of rank or background, deserve a safe and affordable home. While the details may differ between these proposals, they collectively represent the broad base of support for congressional action to effectively end veterans’ homelessness. We call on Congress to consider these pieces of legislation to assist homeless veterans and work collaboratively to pass them into law.