(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator Patty Murray, released the following statement on the joint report from the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development’s on veterans homelessness which was released today.
“I commend the Obama Administration for taking real steps to shine a light on a problem that has for too long been ignored. For too long homeless veterans have been forgotten heroes. But this report provides an important foundation to better understand who these veterans are, the nature of the problems they face, and how to develop solutions to address their needs. This is a critical piece of the Obama Administration’s laudable effort to prevent and end homelessness among veterans.
“What this report shows is a stark and finally more accurate picture of this serious issue. It shows that the disabilities and mental health challenges facing many of our nation’s veterans put many of them, particularly those living in poverty, at greater risk of homelessness. It also shows that current economic conditions and the influx of young veterans are putting many more of our veterans at risk of homelessness.”
“What this report calls on all of us to do is clear - more. We need to build on the work we have begun. With the HUD-VASH program that I restarted in 2008 we have been able to provide vouchers and supportive services for those who have sacrificed for our nation but are now homeless. We need to continue this program that has proven its worth.
“But we also need to do more to prevent veteran homelessness before it starts. That means prevention programs like the pilot program I worked with my colleagues to create near some of our nation’s military installations. Prevention also includes focusing on getting our veterans into stable employment. We need to help veterans translate the skills and expertise they learned on the battlefield into the skills needed in today’s working world.
“We also need the Administration to continue to come together as they have with this report. If we are going to bring veterans off the streets and into steady housing and employment we need VA, HUD, and the Department of Labor to continue working together. I look forward to working with all of these agencies, as well as the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to put forth innovative and effective solutions to get our veterans into safe, secure, and stable housing.”
As Chairman of the Senate Housing Appropriations Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Senator Murray has initiated and passed into law critical help for homeless veterans including the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program which provides housing vouchers and supportive services for homeless veterans and the Veterans Homelessness Prevention Demonstration (VHPD) program which provides housing, health and other supportive services at areas adjacent to military installations to help prevent homelessness. Both programs were cited by today’s report as critical sources of help for homeless veterans.
Today’s report shows that female veterans are twice as likely to be represented in the homeless population as they are to be the U.S. adult female population. Last Congress, Public Law 111-275, Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, included provisions derived from legislation introduced by Chairman Murray which provides new support for homeless women veterans reintegrating into the workforce.
Chairman Murray has also introduced veterans jobs legislation that aims to reduce a rising unemployment rate among returning veterans.
February 10, 2011