Two Major Veteran Homelessness Bills Await Senate Action
H.R. 4810 and S. 1237
There are two major veteran homelessness bills currently awaiting action in the Senate: H.R. 4810, the End Veteran Homelessness Act of 2010, which was passed unanimously by the House on March 22 (by a vote of 413-0) and referred to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) on March 23; and S. 1237, the Homeless Veterans and Other Veterans Health Care Authorities Act of 2010, which was reported out of the SVAC and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar on April 29.
While some overlap exists between these two bills – e.g. both bills would raise the GPD appropriation to $200 million in FY 2010 – for the most part they are completely distinct. The provisions in S. 1237 that address women veterans and housing, for instance, look nothing like the related provisions in H.R. 4810.
A side-by-side comparison can be found here (PDF).
A New Change in Law
S. 1963, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, became Public Law 111-163 on May 5. It affects the parameters of the VA Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program (GPD) by allowing the Secretary to fund “nonconforming entities” – that is, organizations that carry out the GPD’s purposes but cannot meet all of its criteria.
Specifically, per diem funds may be made available to nonprofit organizations that would not normally qualify for assistance, either because (1) fewer than 75 percent of their homeless clients are veterans, (2) they do not provide all of the requisite transitional and supportive services, or (3) both. Whether or not these organizations are funded is up to the VA Secretary’s discretion.
Additional Veteran Homelessness Bills Filed
Several other bills in the current Congress can help forward VA’s Five-Year Plan to End Veteran Homelessness. Two of these bills – H.R. 403, the Homes for Heroes Act of 2009, and H.R. 1171, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 – have already passed the House and now await action in the Senate.
With the second session of the 111th Congress nearly halfway over, seven additional veteran homelessness bills, including two pairs of companion bills (income tax and Homes for Heroes bills), require action. Here is an overview of those bills:
HOUSE BILLS (4)
H.R. 147 – "… to allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans…”
Introduced by: Steve Israel (D-NY)
Status: Hearings held by House Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity (March 4, 2009)
H.R. 295 – More Training for Veterans Act of 2009
Introduced by: Steve Buyer (R-IN)
Status: Referred to House Committee on Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness (March 16, 2009)
H.R. 403 – Homes for Heroes Act of 2009
Introduced by: Al Green (D-TX)
Action: PASSED BY HOUSE (June 16, 2009)
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (June 17, 2009)
H.R. 1171 – Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009
Introduced by: John Boozman (R-AR)
Action: PASSED BY HOUSE (March 30, 2009)
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (March 31, 2009)
SENATE BILLS (3)
S. 1160 – Homes for Heroes Act of 2009
Introduced by: Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (June 1, 2009)
This bill is virtually identical to H.R. 403, whose provisions are listed above.
S. 1366 – "… to allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans…”
Introduced by: Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Finance (June 25, 2009)
This bill is virtually identical to H.R. 147, whose provisions are listed above.
S. 3377 – "... to improve the multifamily transitional housing loan program of the Department of Veterans Affairs..."
Introduced by: Richard Burr (R-NC)
Status: Hearings held by Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (May 19, 2010)