As we enter a new year, we again hope for an end to the national
homelessness epidemic. Homelessness among our nationís veterans
must be addressed aggressively. We must continue to push for
legislation that moves toward an end to homelessness.
Homeless Veterans Task Force continues to monitor and advocate
for change. Most recently, letters were sent to the Secretary of
the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) concerning
the failure on its part to request the funding necessary to
provide the allocation of the Veterans Affairs Supportive
Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers.
The Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001
authorized HUD to allocate 500 HUD-VASH vouchers in FY03; 1,000
in FY04; 1,500 in FY05; and 2,000 in FY06. To date, none have
been issued. HUD-VASH vouchers are a very effective and
efficient way to provide case management and supportive services
to homeless veterans.
Another letter to HUD addressed the issue of Supportive Housing
Program Supportive Services Only projects within the Continuums
of Care. HUD has placed a strong emphasis on funding permanent
housing, turning away from allocating supportive- services
dollars to agencies providing services to homeless veterans not
in permanent housing. In the future, we plan to meet with HUD to
discuss our concerns.
recently sent a letter recognizing Chapters 685 and 343 for
their support of the U.S. VETS program, Houston after Hurricane
Katrina. Members of both chapters visited veterans and provided
them a barbeque lunch, clothing, and toiletry items. Kudos to
Jim and Marilyn Rose, Doug and Chris Davis, Robert and Rosemary
Rodriquez, Buddy Farina, Bill and Suzie Meeks, Betty Hamilton,
and to the entire Florida State Council for its unending efforts
assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The HVTF will
continue to work with the National Coalition of Homeless
Veterans (NCHV). The HVTF strongly supports the Veteransí
Housing Equity Act of 2005, which was proposed by NCHV. This
legislation would expand the supply of permanent housing for
low-income veterans and their families, including supportive
services. It also would push for veterans to be included as a
special-needs population in the development of public housing
plans and calls for veterans benefit compensation payments to be
excluded in any calculation used in determining the amount of
rent to be paid for housing assistance under any federally
assisted housing program. Additionally, it requires HUD to
submit an annual report to Congress on housing assistance to
veterans and would hold HUD accountable for its actions.
We have a
fight ahead of us. We will do whatever we can to insure that the
needs of our homeless brothers and sisters are met and that we
all can look forward to the day when homelessness among our
nationís veterans is a thing of the past.