Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Reauthorize, Improve Critical Homeless Veteran Programs
House expected to pass H.R. 1627 soon
WASHINGTON – On July 18, 2012, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed H.R. 1627, the "Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012." This bill addresses several areas of concern for veterans, including health care, housing, education and benefits. Notably, the bill would reauthorize and improve several homeless veteran programs that are critical to the success of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)'s Five-Year Plan to End Veteran Homelessness.
In June 2011, NCHV submitted congressional testimony on Sen. Murray's S. 1148, the "Veterans Programs Improvement Act of 2011." Throughout the past 13 months, NCHV has regularly advised both House and Senate committees of jurisdiction. Many important homeless veteran provisions from S. 1148 were incorporated into the legislation passed by the Senate yesterday.
Among this bill's highlights are as follows:
- Increased authorization of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program to $300 million – Previously authorized at $100 million, the SSVF Program is the only federal, veteran-specific program offering rapid re-housing and prevention resources to community providers.
- Reauthorization of the VA's Enhanced-Use Lease program – Authority for this program expired on Dec. 31, 2011. H.R. 1627 would modify the previous authority in part by limiting leases to programs that serve homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.
- Requirement for VA to study and improve the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program reimbursement method – Within one year, the VA Secretary must complete a study that would develop a more effective and efficient method for adequately reimbursing per diem recipients for services furnished to homeless veterans.
- Reauthorization of the GPD Program at $250 million – This authority would be maintained through FY 2013, after which authorized funding would drop to $150 million. NCHV maintains that the program cannot be scaled back before the maturity of the Five-Year Plan.
- Reauthorization of the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) – Authorized at $50 million, HVRP authority would be extended through FY 2013.
- Expansion of the VA's Special Needs Grant Program to include male homeless veterans with minor dependents – Current authority restricts these services to women who have care of minor dependents.
- Reauthorization of the VA's Special Needs Grant Program – Authorized at $5 million, the Special Needs program's authority would be extended through FY 2013.
The "Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012" represents a comprehensive agreement between both parties in both the U.S. House and the Senate. NCHV's most recent Congressional Leadership Award recipients – Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs – were at the center of this compromise.
"This legislation brings together nearly two years' worth of work on behalf of America's veterans," Rep. Miller said. An overview of the bill is currently available on his committee's website; it can be accessed here.
"This bill will finally provide health care to veterans and family members exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, expand eligibility for housing adaptation grants to more seriously injured veterans, and make help for homeless veterans more widely available," Sen. Murray said in her press release.
For more information on policy and legislative issues that affect homeless veteran service providers, visit http://nchv.org/index.php/policy/.
VA Announces New Grants to Help End Veterans Homelessness
Initiative Targets 42,000 Homeless and At-Risk Vets and Families
July 17, 2012
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced today the award of nearly $100 million in grants that will help approximately 42,000 homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. The grants are going to 151 community agencies in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"We are committed to ending Veteran homelessness in America," said Shinseki. "These grants will help VA and community organizations reach out and prevent at-risk Veterans from losing their homes."
Under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, VA is awarding grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that provide services to very low-income Veteran families living in -- or transitioning to -- permanent housing. Those community organizations provide a range of services that promote housing stability among eligible very low income Veteran families.
Under the grants, homeless providers will offer Veterans and their family members outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits and assistance in getting other public benefits. Community-based groups can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of Veterans for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.
This is the program's second year. Last year, VA provided about $60 million to assist 22,000 Veterans and family members.
In 2009, President Obama and Secretary Shinseki announced the federal government's goal to end Veteran homelessness by 2015. The grants are intended to help accomplish that goal. According to the 2011 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress, homelessness among Veterans has declined 12 percent since January 2010.
Through the homeless Veterans initiative, VA committed $800 million in FY 2011 to strengthen programs that prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. VA provides a range of services to homeless Veterans, including health care, housing, job training, and education.
More information about VA's homeless programs is available on the Internet at www.va.gov/homeless. Details about the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program are online at www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.
Participate in Capitol Hill Day
Each year, an important part of the Alliance's National Conference on Ending Homelessness is Capitol Hill Day, which will be held Wednesday, July 18 this year. Capitol Hill Day offers a chance for conference attendees to meet directly with their Members of Congress and their staff as both constituents and experts in their fields. Participants will meet with their congressional delegation and educate their members on homelessness in their community, its solutions, and how Congress can help make ending homelessness a federal priority. During last year's Capitol Hill Day, more than 360 people from 41 states attended about 270 congressional meetings. For more information on Capitol Hill Day, please visit the Capitol Hill Day website or contact Maulin Shah.
[ More Information ]
Trauma-Informed Care for Women Experiencing Homelessness and their Children
The threat of homelessness is traumatic. The experience of homelessness is traumatic. Imagine being a mother with children losing her home, desperately trying to find a safe place to be with your children. There is a good chance that she has experienced trauma and violence in the past, as a child and as an adult. How does her encounter with emergency homeless services and supports consider the impact of trauma on this woman's life?
This issue discusses trauma-informed care, particularly from the angle of trauma-sensitive programming. While it is absolutely critical to understand the impact of traumatic events past and present on an individual's ability to rebuild, it is equally important to think about how an organization structures and operates its programs to take trauma sensitivity into consideration. How are staff expectations set and how does professional development occur? What are the program rules, why do they exist, and how are they enforced? How do programs build trust with families when it might be perfectly natural for a family not to trust the program right away?
Grant Announcement: Veterans’ Workforce investment Program - Deadline june 15, 2012
DOL will award at least 10 grants in 10 states
WASHINGTON, DC — The Department of Labor is now soliciting applications for approximately $12 million in grants to provide job training and skills development services that will help approximately 6,000 veterans succeed in civilian careers. Through funds provided by the Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program (VWIP), veterans will receive skills assessments, individual job counseling, labor market information, classroom or on-the-job training, skills upgrades, placement assistance and crucial follow-up services. Veterans also may be eligible for services through other Workforce Investment Act programs for economically disadvantaged or dislocated workers.
The Department will award at least 10 grants in 10 states on a competitive basis. Eligible applicants are state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies, and nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and community organizations. Grantees must be familiar with the areas and populations to be served, and must have demonstrated that they can administer effective programs. The deadline for grant applications is June 15, 2012.
The VWIP Solicitation for Grant Applications can be viewed here: www.dol.gov/vets/programs/vwip/main.htm. Applications can also be submitted through www.grants.gov.
For more information about the Department of Labor’s unemployment and re-employment programs for veterans, go to www.dol.gov/vets.
New US Interagency Council on Homlessness (USICH) Blog Launched
USICH is excited to announce that we have launched an official U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness blog. The new blog will feature a more personal look at the work we do as an agency and will keep readers posted on national efforts to end homelessness. The USICH blog will also feature guest bloggers who are leaders in the field. We already have four interesting blog posts up:
- [Visit the blog]
Performance Improvement Clinics from the Center for Capacity Building
The Alliance has changed the name of the HEARTH Academy Implementation Clinic to the Performance Improvement Clinic. This intensive one-and-a-half day clinic helps communities prepare for changes made by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act and focuses on improving community performance by analyzing community data and encouraging implementation of strategies that help achieve desirable HEARTH Act outcomes. The Performance Improvement Clinic will continue to include group discussions, system design and modification planning sessions, and presentations on best practices. Clinic participants will also receive hands-on technical assistance with data analysis and system assessment as well as follow-up support. While the overall goals and structure of the Clinic are the same, Clinics are customized to the conditions in each community.
Veteran Poverty by the Numbers
Vets Will Face Increased Challenges if Support Programs Are Cut
With the end of the war in Iraq and the involvement in Afghanistan winding down, the United States can expect to see about 100,000 veterans return home. Many will need help and support from safety net programs or job training to transition to civilian life, but that help isn’t guaranteed to be there.
That’s because this past fall the congressional "super committee" charged with developing a plan to reduce the deficit did not come to an agreement. As a result, if Congress fails to act, automatic cuts will be triggered in January 2013 to both nonwar defense spending and domestic discretionary spending, including many human needs programs that provide greater opportunity to veterans and nonveterans alike.
[Read more at AmericanProgress.org]