11.11.09

SCHUMER: MORE THAN 14,000 NYS VETS NOW HOMELESS -- CURRENT VETERANS HEALTH AND HOMELESS PROGRAMS STARVED OF FUNDING AND CANNOT HANDLE NEW WAVE OF RETURNING SOLDIERS FROM AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ

Vets from Iraq and Afghanistan Falling into Homelessness Much Earlier Than Vets After Vietnam - Extreme Post-Traumatic Stress After Repeated and Extended Tours Could Send Thousands More in to the Streets Schumer Releases New Report: Estimated 1,200 Homeless Vets in the Cap Region, 1,100 in CNY, 1,900 in Hudson Valley, 740 in North Country, 1,100 in RFL, 890 in Southern Tier, 1,700 in Western NY, 2,300 in Long Island and 3,200 in New York City Schumer to Unveil "Homes for

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U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer 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. Schumer said that out of the 988,217 veterans living in New York, an estimated 14,132 are homeless. Schumer 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. Out of the 603,238 veterans living in Upstate New York, an estimated 8,626 could be homeless
 
"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."

Schumer 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 today said that, out of the 603,238 veterans living in Upstate NY, an estimated 8,626 may be homeless. In New York State, there are 14,132 total homeless veterans out of a total of 988,217 veterans. 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 state:

 
·        Of the 79,838 veterans living in the Capital Region, an estimated 1,142 could be homeless.
·       Of the 76,589 veterans living in Central New York, an estimated 1,095 could be homeless.
·       Of the 135,704 veterans living in the Hudson Valley, an estimated 1,941 could be homeless.
·       Of the 51,757 veterans living in the North Country, an estimated 740 could be homeless.
·       Of the 75,263 veterans living in the Rochester Finger Lakes area, an estimated 1,076 could be homeless.
·       Of the 62,502 veterans living in the Southern Tier, an estimated 894 could be homeless.
·       Of the 121,585 veterans living in Western New York, an estimated 1,739 could be homeless.

·       Of the 159,709 veterans living in Long Island, an estimated 2,284 could be homeless.

·       Of the 225,270 veterans living in New York City, an estimated 3,222 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 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 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 today announced a new 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.

 

Immediately Approve New Funding for VA Homeless Program - Schumer today said he 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.

 

Dramatically Expand Permanent and Rental Housing Programs - Schumer today said he has 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 $225 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.  

 

Help Veterans Transition into Civilian Life - Schumer today announced that he is 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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