11.11.09

SCHUMER, MENENDEZ: NEARLY 10,000 NYC METRO AREA VETS NOW HOMELESS -- CURRENT VETERANS HEALTH AND HOMELESS PROGRAMS STARVED OF FUNDING AND CANNOT HANDLE NEW WAVE OF RETURNING SOLDIERS FROM AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ

Schumer and Menendez Release New Report: Estimated 549 Homeless Vets in the Bronx, 776 in Brooklyn, 629 in Manhattan, 1,023 in Nassau County, 910 in Queens, 358 in Staten Island, and 1,261 in Suffolk County Senators to Unveil "Homes for Heroes Program" to Overhaul and Expand Vets Homeless and Student Loan Programs in NY, NJ and Across the CountryVets from Iraq and Afghanistan Falling into Homelessness Much Earlier Than Vets After Vietnam - Extreme Post-Traumatic Stress A

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U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Robert Menendez today said that current federal veteran's health and homeless prevention programs are starved for funding and cannot handle the massive wave of traumatized veterans forced to live on the streets . Schumer and Menendez cited a new 2008 Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups (CHALENG) report that found that between onefourth and onefifth of homeless persons in America is a veteran. The report found that on any given night across the United States, there are approximately 131,000 homeless veterans. However, the VA estimates that over the course of the year, 336,627 veterans experience homelessness. The senators said that out of the 384,981 veterans living in New York City and Long Island, an estimated 5,506 may be homeless and out of the 310,829 veterans living in northern New Jersey, an estimated 4,445 may be homeless.  Schumer and Menendez today said that because of the extreme carnage and extended tours of duty forced on American troops in Iraq in Afghanistan, many suffer severe psychological trauma and have trouble reentering civilian society without professional support.  Returning home from war is difficult under any circumstances, and poses added threats for veterans with combatacquired psychological conditions.
 
"On this Veterans' Day, we cannot forget the thousands of heroes that have been let down by our nation's failure to address their needs," Schumer said. "One homeless vet is one too many, thousands of homeless vets is simply unacceptable. Our veterans have undertaken tremendous risk to fight for our nation overseas and the least we can do as a country is ensure they have a home to return to. For too long, veterans returning from war have not received the help and resources they need. My new plan will help right this wrong by providing the men and women who have served our country with housing assistance and providing them with needed student loan relief. Too many veterans are suffering and as a nation, we must come together and give them the support they need."

 

Senator Menendez said: "The crisis of homeless veterans is no less than a national disgrace. It is profoundly represented in the haunting image of 131,000 veterans on the streets of America on any given night - between 7,000 and 9,000 in New Jersey alone. These are 131,000 men and women who served this nation in uniform as American heroes, now huddled over a heating grate in the shadow of the Washington Monument, curled up under the Soldier' and Sailors' Arch in Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza or huddled outside the War Memorial Building in Trenton. Let us end the disgrace of veterans homelessness and give the men and women who have served in uniform the helping hand they have earned for putting their lives on the line in defense of a grateful nation."


Schumer and Menendez said that mental health and homelessness programs run by the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban (HUD) have been starved of funding for years, leaving them unable to handle the increasing wave of new veterans who may find themselves on the streets.  There has also been a recent increase in veteran families that are homeless. There are 1,282 veteran homeless families, a 24% increase over the previous year.
 
Schumer and Menendez today said that, out of the 384,981 veterans living in New York City and Long Island, an estimated 5,506 may be homeless. In New York State, there are 14,132 total homeless veterans now. Nationwide, the study found that there are approximately 131,000 homeless veterans sleeping on the street on any given night. Below are how the numbers break out across the five boroughs and Long Island:

 
·        Of the 38,391 veterans living in the Bronx, an estimated 549 could be homeless.
·       Of the 54,287 veterans living in Brooklyn, an estimated 776 could be homeless.
·       Of the 44,007 veterans living in Manhattan, an estimated 629 could be homeless.
·       Of the 71,559 veterans living in Nassau County, an estimated 1,023 could be homeless.
·       Of the 63,577 veterans living in Queens, an estimated 910 could be homeless.
·       Of the 25,009 veterans living in Staten Island, an estimated 358 could be homeless.
·       Of the 88,151 veterans living in Suffolk County, an estimated 1,261 could be homeless.

 

Schumer and Menendez today said that, out of the 310,829 veterans living in northern New Jersey, an estimated 4,445 may be homeless.

 

·        Of the 40,671 veterans living in Bergen County, an estimated 582 could be homeless.
·       Of the 28,721 veterans living in Essex County, an estimated 411 could be homeless.
·       Of the 16,301 veterans living in Hudson County, an estimated 233 could be homeless.
·       Of the 8,523 veterans living in Hunterdon County, an estimated 122 could be homeless.
·       Of the 36,392 veterans living in Middlesex County, an estimated 520 could be homeless.
·       Of the 37,930 veterans living in Monmouth County, an estimated 542 could be homeless.
·       Of the 27,189 veterans living in Morris County, an estimated 389 could be homeless.

·       Of the 50,183 veterans living in Ocean County, an estimated 718 could be homeless.
·       Of the 18,279 veterans living in Passaic County, an estimated 261 could be homeless.
·       Of the 13,963 veterans living in Somerset County, an estimated 200 could be homeless.

·       Of the 10,064 veterans living in Sussex County, an estimated 144 could be homeless.
·       Of the 22,613 veterans living in Union County, an estimated 323 could be homeless.


Schumer and Menendez today said that these figures are likely to rise significantly over the next decade if dramatic actions aren't taken to improve postdeployment treatment of veterans and expand lowcost housing options. Many homeless advocates have been surprised by the increased number of veterans from the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan falling into homelessness so soon after their deployments. Veterans from the Vietnam era did not start showing up in homeless shelters in large numbers until more than a decade after their deployments.
Schumer and Menendez said the fact that troops from Iraq and Afghanistan have fallen into homelessness earlier can be directly attributed to the policy of extending tours of duty, shortening home leave stays, and forcing troops to serve multiple tours of duty.
 
Schumer and Menendez today said that the federal government has not done nearly enough to counteract the causes of veteran's homelessness or ensure that the VA has the resources it needs to ensure housing for lowincome or mentally ill veterans. In 2007, the VA's Health Care for Homeless Veterans program treated 65,802 homeless veterans, of whom 39,086 completed a formal intake and assessment; 51% had a serious psychiatric problem, 66% were dependent on drugs and/or alcohol, and 57% had a serious medical problem.

 
In response to the growing wave of veteran homelessness, Schumer and Menendez today announced that they are backing comprehensive veterans housing legislation called "Homes for Heroes" as part of a threepoint plan to dramatically overhaul veteran homeless programs, boost funding for critical programs that keep veterans off the streets, and improve student loan programs for veterans in New York and across the country.

 

Homes for Heroes - Schumer and Menendez today said they have introduced comprehensive veterans housing legislation that would expand the supply of permanent affordable housing for lowincome veteran families. This would not only provide shelter for homeless veteran families, but also help prevent lowincome families from falling into homelessness. The bill authorizes a $200 million assistance program for community and nonprofit organizations to purchase, build or rehabilitate housing for lowincome veterans.  The legislation would expand the highly successful HUDVeterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUDVASH) Program, authorizing 20,000 vouchers annually through fiscal year 2013, and making the program permanent.

 

Immediately Approve New Funding for VA Homeless Program - Schumer and Menendez today said they will push for the immediate passage of $75 million in new funding for veteran's homelessness programs that is included in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill. This funding will authorize 10,000 new vouchers to provide rental assistance coupled with supportive services or homeless veterans.

 

Help Veterans Transition into Civilian Life - Schumer and Menendez today announced that they are cosponsoring new legislation, entitled Service Member Student Loan Relief Act. The legislation will stop interest from accruing on Direct student loans for service members who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and in hostile areas abroad.  The Higher Education Act Reauthorization of 2008 included a prospective version of this proposal that kept interest from accruing on Direct loans originated after October 2008.  This legislation would apply this benefit to soldiers who currently have loans.  This proposal would save the average service member an estimated $1,183 to $1,479 over the course of a 1215 month activation period, lessening their financial burden upon their return home.



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