MIL-OSI USA: Strickland Introduces Legislation to End Veteran Homelessness (VIDEO)

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10)

Washington, DC– Today, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), led the introduction of H.R. 5470, the Housing Opportunities to Mitigate Expenses for Services (HOMES) for our Veterans Act. This legislation will reduce barriers and make it easier for organizations who provide homes and services to veterans experiencing  homelessness to access federal capital grants. Strickland’s legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Tim Ryan (OH-13), Dina Titus (NV-01), and Derek Kilmer (WA-06). The legislation is supported by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans (NCHV), and the Lacey Veterans Services Hub. (The bill text can be found here. Watch Congresswoman Strickland’s testimony on the bill before the House Veterans Affairs Committee here.) 

“As the South Sound experiences both a housing shortage and a pandemic, it remains difficult for military veterans to find safe, secure and affordable housing. So many organizations working to end veteran homelessness rely on federal funding, but burdensome and costly red tape can limit their efforts. I am proud to lead the HOMES for our Veterans Act, which empowers service providers to give veterans experiencing homelessness the support they deserve to get back on their feet. We owe it to our veterans to give them the best possible chance to thrive, and that is exactly what this legislation will do.” said Rep. Strickland.

“The Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program is a vital component of VA’s evidence-based continuum of services to help Veterans experiencing homelessness achieve residential stability, optimum wellness, improved financial health, and greater self-determination,” said Monica Diaz, Executive Director of the Veterans Health AdministrationHomeless Programs Office. “The changes proposed to the GPD Program in the ‘HOMES for our Veterans Act of 2021’ will help advance VA’s goal of accelerating progress in reducing homelessness among Veterans by removing a key barrier to developingVA-funded transitional housing facilities, putting more vulnerable Veterans on the pathway to permanent housing.”

“The Grant Per Diem Program, which allows the community to provide key transitional housing support to our homeless Veterans, has been a crucial part of the VA’s supportive housing strategy. The HOMES for our Veterans Act makes needed changes to the VA’s capital grant awards that will help providers more effectively and efficiently serve veterans experiencing homelessness. We urge passage of this legislation as soon as possible.” said Lacey Veterans Services Hub Manager Keith Looker.

“By continuing flexibilities for facility improvements, the HOMES for our Veterans Act would allow more homeless veterans to shelter with regard for their health, safety, and well-being as advised by the Centers for Disease Control. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) appreciates the attention Representative Strickland has given to this issue in this crucial legislation and we look forward to working with her to help it become law.” said NCHV CEO Kathryn Monet.

BACKGROUND:

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that over 37,000 veterans in the US experienced homelessness in 2020, with Washington state alone accounting for 5% of these cases. 

H.R. 5470 makes it easier and cheaper for veterans’ service providers, known as Grant and Per Diem (GPD) recipients, to access capital grant funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to COVID-19, these providers had to provide 35% of the project cost to access the grant. The HOMES for our Veterans Act would eliminate this match requirement for 5 years, at which point the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department may at their discretion reinstate a match requirement of up to 30%. The legislation also eliminates the real property disposition requirement, giving GPD recipients the flexibility to change the services they provide as the needs of their communities shift. This bill is included in Sen. Tester (D-MT)’s Building Solutions for Veterans Experiencing Homelessness Act, which passed out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee by a voice vote in July of 2021.

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland serves as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is the only African-American woman who serves on the House Armed Services Committee. She is one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress and the first African-American to represent the Pacific Northwest at the federal level.

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