Washington, DC - Thursday, Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) and Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) introduced the Wounded Warrior Housing Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 4315), a bipartisan bill that would improve veterans’ access to housing assistance programs.
“Our country’s veterans shouldn’t be facing obstacles that make it difficult for them to receive the benefits they’ve rightfully earned,” said Rep. Vargas. “We should be making it easier, not harder, for veterans to have a roof over their heads. This bill will help the brave men and women who served qualify for affordable housing assistance programs.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental assistance programs provide veterans and other special communities with affordable housing options. Many veterans depend on federal benefit programs and disability payments every month to meet their needs. However, HUD considers a handful of these programs a part of a veteran’s income, which reduces the housing assistance available for low-income disabled veterans.
H.R. 4315 would exclude from consideration as income, under the United States Housing Act of 1937, service-connected disability compensation and pension paid to a veteran age 65 or older, allowing more disabled veterans to qualify for affordable housing.
“Far too many of our Veterans, who have served and sacrificed for our Nation, find themselves homeless and in need of support,” said Rep. Poliquin. “Our federal housing programs exist to help those who need it most, especially our Veterans. I am proud to join with my Democratic colleague Juan Vargas in pushing forward this bipartisan legislation to help make sure our Veterans have better access to affordable housing options and aren’t unfairly penalized for their disabilities or having earned a pension.”
Veterans make up approximately 11% of the homeless adult population in the United States. According to the 2017 We All Count results from the San Diego County Task Force on the Homeless, there are approximately 9,116 homeless individuals in the San Diego region, 1,054 (12%) of them are homeless veterans. The Imperial Valley Continuum of Care Council 2017 Point-in-Time Count and Survey found that there are approximately 1,071 homeless individuals in Imperial County, 104 (10%) of them are homeless veterans.
Programs such as the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families and the joint HUD-VA Veterans Affairs Supported Housing program are showing signs of success in reducing homelessness.