PDT Staff Writer
With winter months closing in, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said he has outlined a plan that would further support the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. Brown said while significant progress is being made, many hurdles still exist for chronically homeless veterans wanting to find housing.
“Veterans who serve their country in order to protect our freedoms should never face homelessness,” Brown said. “The Homeless Veterans Prevention Act would help Ohio veterans by providing additional resources that help keep these men and women off the streets and start rebuilding their lives by finding transitional housing to meet their needs.”
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 62,619 veterans were determined to be homeless during a “point-in-time” survey conducted on a single night in January 2012.
Brown has outlined how the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act would improve prevention programs and increase the availability of transitional housing for female veterans. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Improve homelessness prevention programs by allowing the VA to develop public-private partnerships focused on increasing the availability of legal services available to homeless veterans to help obtain proper identification, representation before the court system, and assistance with legal issues associated with housing and family law. A recent VA survey found that lack of legal services was one of the top four unmet needs among homeless veterans.
- Increase transitional housing programs by establishing strict standards for grantees to meet the needs of female veterans by providing gender-specific housing. The Act would also help keep families together by allowing dependents in to transitional programs.
- Expand existing programs by increasing the current eligibility for the Homeless Veterans Dental Program to include HUD-VASH participants and reauthorizes several current VA programs that fund drop-in centers, rapid re-housing and transitional programs, and employment assistance.
Brown is Co-Chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus. He is also an original cosponsor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Law, which offers job retraining assistance to veterans between 35 and 60 years of age.
During an October press conference in Cleveland, Brown outlined a plan that would reduce unemployment among recently-returned service members and ease their transition into the civilian workforce by establishing new resources to better match the skills learned in the service to those sought by employers in fastest-growing fields.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.