Focus on Homeless and Families
Three new bills have been introduced to address the housing needs of veterans: the Shelter Our Service Members Act (H.R. 1714), the Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2013 (H.R. 1742), and the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2013 (S. 825).
H.R. 1714 was introduced on April 24 by Representative Scott Peters (D-CA). The measure would direct the Secretaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and HUD to jointly establish a pilot grant program to provide non-transitional housing to homeless veterans ages 55 years or older. If enacted, the legislation would authorize two grants of no more than $25,000,000 each to be awarded to two distinct private, nonprofit organizations to carry out the pilot. Similar legislation was introduced in the 112th Congress by former Representative Bob Filner (D-CA) but was not acted on prior to the end of the Congress.
H.R. 1742 was reintroduced on April 25 by Representative Joseph Heck (R-NV). The measure was also introduced in the 112th Congress, and while the House of Representatives approved it, the Senate failed to take action on the measure. The bill would exempt expenses related to a veteran’s aid and attendant pension payments from counting as income in determining eligibility and payments from HUD programs. The cost of the bill would be offset by a change to the way utility allowances are calculated for HUD-assisted housing. The change would base utility allowances on the unit the size permitted by a local public housing agency, even if the family has rented a larger unit at its own additional cost. A similar provision is included in HUD’s FY14 budget request to Congress. The bill would also require the publication of utility consumption data.
S. 825 was introduced by Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on April 25. Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) cosponsors the measure. Among other provisions, the bill would allow the VA to enter partnerships with other entities to expand the legal services available for veterans experiencing homelessness.
The legislation would require housing providers to take steps to better meet the needs of female veterans, and would amend VA rules to ensure the children of homeless veterans are allowed to live in VA-run transitional housing programs. The bill would also reauthorize a number of programs that serve veterans experiencing homelessness including the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP).