SCHUMER: WITH FRIGID WINTER TEMPERATURES FAST APPROACHING, MORE THAN 700 VETERANS LIVING IN UPSTATE NY WHO ARE HOMELESS OR IN NEED COULD BE LEFT OUT IN THE COLD; WITH VETERANS DAY ON THE HORIZON, SENATOR URGES COLLEAGUES TO IMMEDIATELY PASS LEGISLATION THAT WILL MAKE HOUSING MORE AVAILABLE TO VETERANS
Sweeping Legislation Will Encourage Landlords To Rent To Veterans, Provide Grants To Organizations that Support Formerly Homeless Veterans, Expand The Definition Of A “Homeless Veteran,” Improve Outreach To Veterans & More
According To The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, There Are More Than 700 Homeless Veterans – In the Capital Region, As of 2014, There Were 119 Homeless Veterans; In Central NY, 69; In Western NY, 79; In Rochester-Finger Lakes, 112; In Southern Tier, 143; In Hudson Valley, 217; In North Country, 12
Schumer: Even One Homeless Veteran Is One Too Many
Today on a conference call with reporters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged his colleagues in Congress to pass legislation that will improve programs that provide support services to homeless veterans and their families. With frigid winter temperatures fast approaching, Schumer said that more than 700 veterans across Upstate New York who do not have permanent residences could be left out in the cold. Therefore, Schumer is pushing to pass sweeping legislation that will encourage landlords to rent to veterans, modify the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program that sells foreclosed homes to veterans, and deliver grants to organizations that support formerly homeless veterans, among many other initiatives aimed at ending veteran homelessness.
“Even one homeless veteran is one too many. These brave men and women put life and limb on the line to protect our country and it is our responsibility to look out for them when they return from active duty,” said Schumer. “That is why I am urging my colleagues to pass the Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015, which would increase veterans’ access to housing, among many other provisions, to ensure they have a place to call home. We owe it to our veterans to ensure they can find affordable, safe housing and stay off the streets after protecting the many freedoms we know and cherish.”
Schumer said that there are far too many instances of veterans falling through cracks when they return home from active duty. Although the VA provides a number of resources to help veterans transition back into civilian life, there are isstill a large number who do not benefit from such programs and outreach. Schumer said that while numbers of homeless veterans have decreased over the past few years, the number of veterans who do not have a permanent residence is still far too high. According to a joint report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, approximately 49,933 veterans were found to be homeless nationwide during a single night in January, 2014. Despite a 33 percent decrease in veteran homelessness since 2010, Schumer said there are still far too many people who protected this country that are left on the street, particularly in New York.
During the call, Schumer said that, in 2014, HUD reported there were 2,542 homeless veterans across New York State. Of these, 751 homeless veterans were located in Upstate New York:
- In the Capital Region, there were 119 homeless veterans.
- In Central New York, there were 69 homeless veterans.
- In Western New York, there were 79 homeless veterans.
- In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there were 112 homeless veterans
- In the Southern Tier, there were 143 homeless veterans.
- In the Hudson Valley, there were 217 homeless veterans.
- In the North Country, there were 12 homeless veterans.
Schumer explained that this number is likely to be higher because many cases of homelessness go unreported, because many move across county and state lines as they search for shelters and long-term housing.
Schumer said that as frigid temperatures and winter weather approach Upstate NY, it is critical that Congress do more to help veterans access housing before many are left out in the cold this season. In honor of Veteran’s Day, Schumer is urging his colleagues to pass the Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015, which would help address veteran homelessness by increasing the number of veterans who can afford permanent housing.
Specifically, the bill would do the following:
- Require the VA to reach out to realtors, landlords, property management companies, and developers and encourage them to rent properties to veterans;
- Expand the definition of a “homeless veteran” to provide additional benefits for veterans fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault, and other life-threatening conditions in their current housing situation;
- Require the VA establish and operate a National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, which would:
o Research further into the causes of veteran homelessness;
o And assess the effectiveness of VA homeless veterans programs, as well as serve as a center for the exchange of information on the topic;
- Expand the VA’s housing assistance program to include veterans and their families who are at risk of becoming homeless, and to provide additional assistance for acquiring and transitioning to, and maintaining occupancy in, permanent housing;
- Require the VA to improve its intensive case management interventions for veterans enrolled in the VA's homeless registry and improve housing retention by veterans who were previously homeless and are transitioning to permanent housing, as well as veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless;
- Authorize the VA to evaluate the performance of entities that received federal grant funding for the purpose of helping homeless veterans find housing and employment.
Schumer said collectively, these measures would help reduce homeless veterans and ensure they have access to affordable, safe housing. The Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015 was introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal [D-CT] and is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown [D-OH], Mazie Hirono [D-HI], and Bernard Sanders [I-VT].