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Hirono Introduces Bill to Protect Programs for Homeless Veterans

September 14, 2018, 1:28 PM HST · Updated September 14, 7:05 PM
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Senator Mazie K. Hirono and Arkansas Senator John Boozman introduced a bill to renew several federal homeless veteran programs for the next fiscal year through 2020.

The bill, known as the Keeping Our Commitment to Ending Veteran Homelessness Act of 2018, would renew seven US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and US Department of Labor programs that provide services to homeless veterans and their families. These programs will begin to expire on Sept. 30 without Congressional action.

“Organizations in Hawaiʻi and nationwide are working hard every day to help ensure our country’s veterans have access to necessary resources and a permanent, stable roof over their heads,” Senator Hirono said. “We cannot allow funding for these critical programs to lapse and I thank Senator Boozman for his strong support in this fight to keep our commitments to our veterans and their families.”

Senator Boozman said that continuing to fund these services must be a priority. “We must support our nation’s veterans by providing them with the tools and resources they need to end the cycle of homelessness,” Senator Boozman said. “We’ve seen the success of these programs in Arkansas and all across the country to help our veterans rebuild their lives.”

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“US VETS is the nation’s largest homeless veteran service provider that commits itself to reintegrating homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in to the community,” US VETS’ Chief Operating Officer Darryl Vincent said. “It is our mission at US VETS to work for the day that no veteran who has given their life to protect our freedoms suffer the indignity of homelessness. Programs that provide support for our veterans have played, and continue to play, a vital role in helping us fulfill our commitment to serving those who served by bringing us closer to the goal of ending veteran homelessness.”

These programs served approximately 725 veterans and their families across Hawaiʻi in 2018. The expiring provisions impact the seven VA and Department of Labor programs listed below:

  • Healthcare for Homeless Veterans: Conducts outreach to homeless veterans, provides care and treatment for medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorders, and refers veterans for supportive services.
  • Grants and Per Diem (GPD) Homeless Veterans with Special Needs: Allows VA to award grants to community-based agencies to create transitional housing programs and offer per diem payments. GPD Special Needs funding assists with operating costs of services for special need groups such as women, chronically mental ill, and those with minor dependents.
  • Supportive Services for Veteran Families: Funds supportive services that assist very low-income veterans and their families who are either residing in permanent housing or transitioning from homelessness.
  • Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program: Provides job services to veterans including outreach, assistance in interview preparation, job search, job training, and follow-up assistance after placement.
  • Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children Reintegration Program: Provides job training, counseling, placement services (including job readiness, literacy and skills training) and child care services to expedite the reintegration of homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children into the labor force.
  • Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program: Provides job referral and counseling services, housing, health care, and other benefits to assist veterans who are leaving prison.
  • Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans: Provides advice to the VA secretary on benefits and services the VA gives to homeless veterans.

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