National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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Congressional Update

5/6/2009
FY 2009 Appropriations

  • Homeless Assistance Grants: $1.67 billion in record resources, about $90 million above the 2008 level. At least 30% of the awarded funds, with the exception of renewals of Shelter Plus Care, will continue to be for permanent housing.
  • Homeless Veterans Demonstration: A new $10 million HUD-VA-DOL interagency collaboration urban and rural veterans demonstration on preventing homelessness. Funding for the demonstration is to be used for housing and appropriate services to prevent veterans and their families from becoming homeless or reduce the length of time veterans and their families are homeless. Funding will be used by selected grantees to help veterans, as well as any dependent family members, find and maintain housing, including up to 18 months of rental assistance, first and last month's rent, back rent or other related services as appropriate.

    HUD is directed to choose a limited number of urban and rural sites to carry out the veterans demonstration. In selecting sites, HUD is to evaluate the rate of homelessness among veterans in the area, and the experience of the grantees in coordinating with Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor to enable veterans to access mainstream programs. Of the sites selected, up to three are to have a high number of service members separating from the military and transitioning into civilian life. HUD is also to select up to four sites located in rural areas to evaluate how to effectively serve veterans in rural areas, many of whom may have been part of the National Guard, may have limited access to the Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, and may have dependent family members.
  • Demonstration Programs: Renewal of demonstration awards, such as the recently awarded demonstration grants for rapid re-housing for families, by providing that the Secretary may renew grants made under the demonstration program and may treat such original grants and any renewal grants as if these grants were made under the Supportive Housing Program.
  • HUD-VASH: $75 million is included for an estimated 10,000 new vouchers in the HUD-VASH program for homeless veterans.

Key highlights of the Department of Labor veterans programs:

  • DOL Veterans Employment and Training: DOL-VETS programs are funded at $239.4 million, $11.3 million above the FY 2008 funding level.
  • Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program: The DOL-VETS program for homeless veterans employment is funded at $26.3 million, a $2.7 million increase.
  • Veterans Workforce Investment Program: The DOL-VETS program that addresses veterans employment and training is funded at $7.6 million, a $.3 million increase.

Last September FY 2009 appropriations bills for the Departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Defense were signed into law. That measure included an additional $7.5 million for VA's Homeless Grant and Per Diem (GPD) liaisons, an additional $8 million which brought the GPD to its full authorization level of $130 million, and an additional $30 million for the HUD-VASH program for any increase in authorized vouchers (directing VA to increase caseworkers if needed for the increase in vouchers). VA was directed to provide at least $5 million for caseworkers for the HUD demonstration program of homeless prevention among the veteran population.

DOL Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization

On March 30 the House of Representatives passed H. R. 1171, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which reauthorizes the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program for fiscal years 2010 through 2014. Introduced by Representative John Boozman (R-AR-3), the bill was amended to authorize an additional $10 million to provide dedicated services for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.  Grants would be made available to provide job training, counseling, placement services, and child care services to expedite the reintegration of veterans into the labor force. Earlier in March NCHV testified before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity expressing support for the bill.

Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund

During the March  4 House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity hearing, NCHV also provided comments regarding H.R. 147, a bill introduced by Representative Steve Israel (D-2-NY).  The legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans through a Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund. The Fund would be a trust fund established in the Treasury of the United States. Giving conditional support for the bill, NCHV was asked to work with Representative Israel’s staff to develop comprehensive guidelines for the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund.

Veterans Permanent Supportive Housing

To address the need to establish permanent supportive housing for veterans, Representative Al Green (D-TX) has reintroduced H.R. 304, the Homes for Heroes Act of 2009, a bill that would provide permanent supportive housing for low income veterans.  In the 110th Congress the bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 412-9. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate in early May.

On March 11, President Barack Obama signed into law, P.L. 111-8, an omnibus bill containing the remaining FY 2009 appropriations bills. Provisions contained in this legislation added new targeted and mainstream resources to prevent and end homelessness in the nation.


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