National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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Congressional Update

6/10/2010

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).
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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.
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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)
Cosponsors: 90
Status: Hearings held by House Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity (March 4, 2009)

  • Amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans.

H.R. 295 – More Training for Veterans Act of 2009
Introduced by: Steve Buyer (R-IN)
Cosponsors: 11
Status: Referred to House Committee on Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness (March 16, 2009)

  • Amends the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to authorize appropriations of $20 million for each fiscal year for veterans' workforce investment programs.

H.R. 403 – Homes for Heroes Act of 2009
Introduced by: Al Green (D-TX)
Cosponsors: 41
Action: PASSED BY HOUSE (June 16, 2009)
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (June 17, 2009)

  • Establishes a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs within HUD.
  • Authorizes $200 million for FY 2009 “and such sums as may be necessary for each fiscal year thereafter” (1) to expand the supply of permanent housing for very low-income veteran families and (2) to provide supportive services through such housing to support the needs of such veteran families.
  • Provides the amount necessary each year for at least 20,000 housing choice vouchers for homeless veterans.
  • Includes veterans in public housing plans.
  • Excludes veterans benefits from assisted housing rent considerations.

H.R. 1171 – Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009
Introduced by: John Boozman (R-AR)
Cosponsors: 4
Action: PASSED BY HOUSE (March 30, 2009)
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (March 31, 2009)

  • Reauthorizes the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program through FY 2014. The bill was amended to authorize an additional $10 million for FY 2010 through FY 2014 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.

SENATE BILLS (3)

S. 1160 – Homes for Heroes Act of 2009
Introduced by: Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Cosponsors: 14
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)
Cosponsors: 4
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)
Cosponsors: 3
Status: Hearings held by Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (May 19, 2010)

  • Improves the VA multifamily transitional housing loan program by requiring the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to issue loans for the construction of, rehabilitation of, or acquisition of land for multifamily transitional housing projects instead of guaranteeing loans for such purposes.
  • Establishes the VA Multifamily Transitional Housing Loan Program Revolving Fund to fund such loans.

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