Bipartisan Bill Introduced by Representatives Mike Levin and Gus Bilirakis to Support Housing for Disabled Veterans Passes House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Ryan Kules Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), passed the House of Representatives. The legislation would improve the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program, which provides grants to veterans and servicemembers with service-connected disabilities to assist them in constructing, purchasing, or remodeling homes to fit their needs.
The bill was also amended to include legislation Representative Levin introduced to extend eligibility for the Fry Scholarship to spouses and children of members of the National Guard and Reserve who died of service connected causes but whose deaths did not occur when the member was on active duty.
“Servicemembers make incredible sacrifices for our freedom, and it is our responsibility to support them when they return home – particularly when they return with wounds from their service,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chair Mike Levin. “The Specially Adapted Housing program is a critical tool we have to ensure that veterans have homes that fit their abilities, and improving the program will significantly raise their quality of life. I’m proud to partner with Ranking Member Bilirakis on this legislation and I am thrilled that it has moved one step closer to becoming law.”
“We’re grateful to all the members of the House of Representatives who showed their support for the Ryan Kules Specially Adapted Housing Improvement Act of 2019, especially Rep. Gus Bilirakis for sponsoring this bill and Reps. Phil Roe and Mike Levin for co-sponsoring,” said Wounded Warrior Project CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. “This act will provide significant economic relief to many wounded warriors and their families as they make their homes more livable, navigable, and comfortable. Our nation’s wounded warriors fought hard for us, and we’re pleased to see Congress fighting for them.”
“Today’s vote is a great step toward ensuring wounded veterans have access to flexible resources to adapt their homes, which helps meet their changing needs throughout life,” said Army Capt. (Ret.) Ryan Kules, Wounded Warrior Project director of combat stress recovery. “The proposed changes will reduce financial stress for families like mine who use or need the Specially Adapted Housing benefit, and it will give them more peace of mind, freedom, and comfort in their homes. I’m grateful for the representatives who supported this act, and I look forward to its swift passage in the Senate.”
The Ryan Kules Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019 would make several improvements to the SAH program, particularly to accommodate moves and changes in a veteran’s needs over his or her lifetime. The bill would provide seriously ill veterans with a priority for SAH grants; eliminate the limitation on the number of grants per veteran; increase the authorized number of approved applications per fiscal year; and increase the aggregate amount of assistance available per veteran.
The Ryan Kules Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019 is Representative Levin’s sixth bipartisan veterans’ bill to pass the House of Representatives since he was sworn in earlier this year. Other veterans legislation he has passed includes bills to improve the Transition Assistance Program, expand veterans’ access to STEM scholarship programs, prioritize veterans' economic benefits at the VA, expand veterans’ eligibility to receive counseling from VA Vet Centers, and protect affordable mortgages for veteran homeowners.