February 18, 2011


Dear Colleague:

Current estimates suggest that over 130,000 veterans are homeless on a given night, and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point over the course of a year.  In this difficult economic climate, and with servicemembers continuing to return from two wars, addressing the number of homeless among the ranks of our nation’s veterans takes on an even greater importance.  It is unacceptable that even one of our veterans must sleep on the streets or in shelters after risking their lives and making enormous sacrifices on behalf of this country.

I am proud to have introduced H.R. 806, the End Veteran Homelessness Act of 2011, to arm the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with the tools to fight homelessness among our veterans.  For instance, H.R. 806, would enhance and improve the grant and per diem program, one of VA’s most successful programs for caring for homeless veterans.  The End Veteran Homelessness Act’s improvements to the grant and per diem program would include a significant increase in VA’s annual authorization for the program, changes to the grant and per diem funding mechanism that would offer increased financial flexibility and stability to organizations receiving funding.  Participating organizations would also be given expanded authority to raise funds.

In addition to supporting the organizations that care for homeless veterans, the End Veteran Homelessness Act would also enhance VA’s ability to help veterans find permanent housing.  This legislation would require that VA provide specialists who would reach out to landlords and help match veterans to open rental units.  At the same time, H.R. 806 would seek to prevent veterans from becoming homeless through collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, and by extending and increasing funding for the VA’s supportive services program which assists certain low-income veteran families with personal financial planning, legal counsel, and rental arrears payments.

Finally, the End Veteran Homelessness Act would support VA’s efforts to reduce the population of homeless women veterans or homeless veterans with children.  Women veterans are overrepresented within the homeless veteran population, with research indicating that they are four times as likely to become homeless as their civilian counterparts.  H.R. 806 would direct VA to focus media outreach efforts on these populations, aimed at increasing awareness of VA services and programs.

If you would like further information or to become a co-sponsor of this crucial legislation, please contact Jian Zapata of my staff. 

Ranking Democratic Member