September 16, 2020

Reps. Mike Levin and Kevin McCarthy Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Veteran Homelessness

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA), Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced the Reducing Veteran Homelessness Act. The bipartisan bill would ensure that homeless veterans and their families receive the resources and services they deserve by filling gaps in HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) case management, increasing payments to organizations that house homeless veterans, and reimbursing those organizations for fees to access local Homeless Management Information Systems so they can better track outcomes of homeless veterans.

“Veterans who have sacrificed for our country should never end up on our streets, and we must do more to support them and help them find permanent housing,” said Rep. Levin. “The Reducing Veteran Homelessness Act will get veterans back on their feet by helping fill case management gaps in the HUD-VASH program, increasing payments to organizations that house homeless veterans, and facilitating access to information systems that can improve outcomes for the veterans they serve. These changes can make a world of difference for homeless veterans and their families, and I appreciate Minority Leader McCarthy’s partnership on this legislation.”                                      

“For generations, our veterans have sacrificed immensely to guarantee the safety of the United States at home and abroad,” said McCarthy. “Because of their service, our country remains a world leader and beacon of hope across the globe. When our service members leave the military, it is our responsibility to help them in their transition to civilian life, especially for those who fall on hard times. Helping our homeless veterans get back on track by ensuring they have ample access to housing vouchers and other supportive services is an important step toward repaying our gratitude for their sacrifices and service to country. I thank Congressman Levin for joining me on this bill and for his dedication to this very important cause and Ranking Member Roe and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee team for their support in bringing this bill to fruition.

"The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans applauds the efforts of Leader McCarthy and Chairman Levin for introducing this legislation,” said Ms. Kathryn Monet, Chief Executive Officer of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. “This language would improve services to veterans facing housing instability by adjusting non-emergency Grant and Per Diem rates and HMIS reimbursement and HUD-VASH case management staffing.  These adjustments are monumental for those service providers and veterans affected. NCHV looks forward working with the Leader and Chairman as we continue our collective efforts to end veteran homelessness."

The Reducing Veteran Homelessness Act would take three main steps to ensure that homeless veterans receive the housing vouchers and supportive services that they deserve:

  • Encourage the VA to contract out vacant HUD-VASH case worker positions to local, qualified community providers—if a VA Medical Center has not used 15% of its HUD-VASH voucher allocation in the previous year and has had a HUD-VASH case manager position vacant for over 9 months.
  • Increase the Per Diem payments that community participants in the in the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program may receive for each homeless veteran that they house by authorizing the VA to adjust the Per Diem rate based on locality pay and up to 125% of the current rate of $48.50 a day, thus taking into account the cost of providing services to homeless veterans in more expensive parts of the country. 
  • Allow Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program community participants to use GPD funding to gain access to their local Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), so that they may track outcomes of homeless individuals without having to pay out-of-pocket.

A one pager on the Reducing Veteran Homelessness Act is available here.

Rep. Levin previously introduced the Homeless Veteran Coronavirus Response Act with Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) to expand and strengthen VA services for homeless veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill allows VA to use existing funds for a wider range of services; authorizes the Department to collaborate with outside organizations to facilitate shelters on its properties; loosens restrictions on Grant and Per Diem (GPD) payments; and requires VA to ensure veterans participating in VA homeless programs have access to VA telehealth services. Rep. Levin also introduced the Housing for Women Veterans Act with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) to direct a portion of VA homelessness funding to women veterans. That bill passed as part of the Deborah Sampson Act.