National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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Congressional Update

1/24/2010

NCHV Legislative Priorities - Closing Out the First Session

As the first session of the 111th Congress comes to a close, several homeless veteran assistance bills are still moving forward. NCHV has testified in the Senate as recently as Nov. 10 and has continued to work with Congressional staffs throughout December in order to improve existing House bills.

With the second session less than a month away and no further hearings currently scheduled, this is an excellent time to consider bills with complementary provisions.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)’s Zero Tolerance Act (S. 1547), in particular, shares many of the same provisions as four major House bills, which, if combined, could serve as a companion to the Senate bill. His bill now has 17 cosponsors, up from 12 just two months ago.

It is critical that, as our Congressional representatives return from winter recess, they are reminded of these initiatives. NCHV asks that all member organizations write to their senators urging them to cosponsor the Homes for Heroes Act of 2009 (S. 1160). You can quickly learn how to prepare your letter here, or call the NCHV Central Office at 202-546-1969 for advice and assistance.

Recap of Seven Major Bills

There are three major Senate bills pertaining to homeless veterans, each of which has been propelled, in part, by NCHV’s testimony:

S. 1160 - Homes for Heroes Act of 2009
Introduced by: Charles Schumer (D-NY)

  • Expands the supply of supportive housing for very low-income veteran families (families with incomes not exceeding 50 percent of the area median income).
  • Makes housing rental vouchers available to all homeless veterans, regardless of medical condition, and includes veterans in public housing planning.

S. 1237 - Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children Act of 2009
Introduced by: Patty Murray (D-WA)

  • Expands the reach of Departments of Veterans Affairs and Labor programs by including women and single homeless veterans with minor dependents as a new category.
  • Creates a program, authorized at $10 million, to provide employment assistance to women veterans and single veterans with dependent children.

S. 1547 - Zero Tolerance for Veterans Homelessness Act of 2009
Introduced by: Jack Reed (D-RI)

  • Builds out HUD-VASH to a total of 60,000 housing vouchers for veterans with serious mental and emotional illnesses by the year 2013.
  • Authorizes up to $50 million annually to provide supportive services for low-income veterans.
  • Increases the annual GPD authorization to $200 million.

There are four major House bills that are steadily accruing cosponsors and may be bundled into one homeless veteran assistance bill in the second session:

H.R. 2504 - "…to provide for an increase in the annual amount authorized… to carry out comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans”
Introduced by: Harry Teague (D-NM)

  • Increases GPD authorization to $200 million

H.R. 2559 - Help Our Homeless Veterans Act
Introduced by: Phil Hare (D-IL)

  • Directs the VA Secretary to carry out a national media campaign directing homeless veterans and veterans at risk of becoming homeless to the help they need.

H.R. 2735 - "… to make certain improvements to the comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans”
Introduced by: Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX)

  • Changes the rate of payment from a per diem cost of care to an annual cost of providing services.
  • Allows providers to use per diem funds to match other funding sources.

H.R. 3906 – “… to authorize appropriations for the VA program to provide financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing”
Introduced by: Harry Teague (D-NM)

  • Increases the authorization for VA to provide financial assistance for supportive services to prevent homelessness from $50 million to $100 million by FY 2014 and thereafter.

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