Press Releases

Boozman, Hirono Introduce Legislation To Keep Veterans Housing Programs Alive

Without Intervention, Key Programs Will Expire At The End Of September

Sep 21 2015

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) to introduce legislation that authorizes federal homeless veteran programs for the next fiscal year.

The Keeping Our Commitment to Ending Veteran Homelessness Act would ensure seven Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Labor programs would continue to operate for the next fiscal year. Without action, authorization for critical programs that provide outreach and services to homeless veterans and their families would expire on September 30, 2015.

“Homelessness is a serious problem amongst our nation’s veterans, but we have seen firsthand that effective partnerships can help,” Senator Boozman said. “Our bill ensures that homeless veterans can continue to get the essential services—including transitional housing, meals and employment counseling—that are necessary to rebuild their lives. We’ve seen success with these types of partnerships in Arkansas where organizations like St. Francis House in Little Rock and Seven Hills Homeless Center in Fayetteville have been able help many homeless veterans in need. These partnerships are among our best tools to confront the challenges homeless veterans face in this current economic environment and it is important that we continue the programs that enable them.”

 “Supporting our nation’s veterans is a solemn task that does not expire at the end of the government’s fiscal year, so we must ensure programs that provide essential housing and supportive services can continue uninterrupted past September 30,” Senator Hirono said. “Organizations in Hawaii and across the country are working hard to get veterans and their families the resources they need to have a permanent and stable roof over their heads. Our veterans will be at serious risk if authorization for these VA and Department of Labor programs is interrupted. I thank Senator Boozman for joining me in keeping our commitment to our veterans and their families.”

The Keeping Our Commitment to Ending Veteran Homelessness Act would reauthorize the following programs:

Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV): Through HCHV, VA medical center staff conduct outreach to homeless veterans, provide care and treatment for medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorders, and refer veterans for supportive services. The HCHV program is authorized through FY2015 (P.L. 112-154).

Grants and Per Diem (GPD) for Homeless Veterans with Special Needs: GPD for homeless veterans with special needs, authorized at $5 million through FY2015 (P.L. 113-175), targets GPD funds to specific groups of veterans, including women, elderly veterans, terminally or mentally ill veterans, and veterans with children.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF): SSVF funds grants for supportive services to assist very low-income veterans and their families who are either residing in permanent housing or transitioning from homelessness. Eligible services include assistance with rent, utility or moving costs, outreach, case management, and help with obtaining VA and other mainstream benefits.

Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans: A committee created by law made up of veteran service organizations and service providers to provide advice to the VA secretary on benefits and services the Department gives to homeless veterans.

Acquired Property Sales for Homeless Veterans: The VA is authorized to sell, lease, lease with the option to buy, or donate properties to nonprofit organizations and state government agencies that will use the property as homeless shelters for veterans and their families. The program is authorized through FY2015 by P.L. 113-175.

Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP): HVRP grantees provide services to veterans including outreach, assistance in interview preparation, job search, job training, and follow-up assistance after placement. A separate HVRP targets women veterans and veterans with children and is authorized through FY2015 at $1 million (P.L. 111-275). 

Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program: Most recently authorized through FY2015 (P.L. 113-175), grantee organizations through the Incarcerated Veterans Transition program provide job training and placement services to veterans who are leaving prison.

In February, Boozman and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act of 2015 (S.425) that clarifies veterans who receive housing assistance under VA’s Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and Native American veterans participating in the Native American Housing Assistance program, are eligible to receive valuable assistance such as job training under the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP). 

When it was introduced, Boozman called that bill an effort “to end the cycle of homelessness amongst some of our veteran population by eliminating the hurdles they face to getting the affordable housing and job training assistance they earned.”