U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown outlined legislation to improve programs for homeless veterans and their families


Staff report

WARREN

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, outlined legislation to improve programs for homeless veterans and their families.

He spoke Monday at a news conference at the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority offices.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about 12 percent of the adult homeless population are military veterans.

“It’s our responsibility to ensure that every veteran has a place to call home and an opportunity to succeed,” said Brown, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

“That’s why I’m working to pass the Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015 – which would make meaningful improvements to services for homeless veterans and give more veterans access to permanent housing.”

Brown was joined by Randall Gregory, an Army veteran who was formerly homeless but now lives in permanent housing, and Matthew Slater of Family and Community Services Inc., a local organization that works to meet the needs of homeless veterans.

The Obama administration has made tackling veterans homelessness a priority, Brown said. Homelessness among veterans has declined 36 percent since 2010.

But according to newly released numbers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 47,725 veterans were homeless during a “point-in-time” survey conducted on a single night in January 2015. In Ohio, that night, 1,183 veterans were homeless.

The Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015 would:

Encourage landlords to rent to veterans by requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to collaborate with HUD, public housing authorities, tribally designated housing entities, and entities such as Realtors, landlords, property managers and developers to encourage more landlords to rent to veterans.

Provide grants for organizations that support formerly homeless veterans by requiring the VA to carry out a program to increase housing stability and retention by providing grants to community organizations that provide after-care to formerly homeless veterans.

Modify a VA program that sells homes from VA’s foreclosure inventory at a discount to nonprofit agencies. Currently these organizations can only acquire properties from the VA to use as transitional housing for homeless veterans. This provision would broaden uses to include housing stability for veterans who are very low-income and at risk of becoming homeless.

Expand the definition of a “homeless veteran” to provide additional benefits to veterans in need, including a veteran or veteran’s family fleeing domestic or dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions in their current housing.

Ensure continued research and evaluation into efficacy of VA programs by setting national performance targets for the VA’s housing placement rates.

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