WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives Peter Meijer and Ritchie Torres introduced on Tuesday the Combating Veteran Homelessness Act of 2021.
It would provide federal support to private and nonprofit organizations that work to end veteran homelessness.
The number of veterans experiencing homelessness has gone down by almost 50% in the last decade, but Rep. Meijer says more work still needs to be done.
“This bill would remove some of the caps that currently exist on training around the homelessness issue at the VA and also unlock additional federal dollars so that the VA can work closely with nonprofit entities that are engaged in this space,” Meijer said. “That’s really where we’ve seen the best outcomes in reducing veteran homelessness has been through private-public partnerships, through the engagement of the nonprofit community.”
The bill would:
- "Ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the resources and support to aid veterans experiencing homelessness by providing organizations focused on combatting veteran homelessness with additional education and support.
- Remove the cap on training and technical assistance provided by the Homeless Program Office. Currently, the VA provides technical assistance to programs that provide shelter for unhoused veterans primarily during the grant application process. Funding for this support has not increased alongside the significant growth of these programs since they were established. The legislation would remove the current cap on technical assistance spending for these programs to ensure that grantees are receiving the best support possible."
Rep. Meijer says the goal is to address both the cyclical factors that contribute to homelessness – like housing insecurity and prices – as well as underlying issues like substance abuse or mental health challenges.
“We also have to understand when it comes to homelessness, access to housing is one component of it,” he said. “But there are other underlying issues that exposed themselves and that have to be addressed in conjunction and, specifically, substance abuse and mental health are two of the largest contributing factors there.”
Specific allocations to nonprofit partners haven’t been determined yet, and it’s unclear when the bill would be considered amid a busy legislative calendar.
Read the full text of the bill here.