CLEVELAND, OH – With winter months closing in, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, outlined a plan today that would further support the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. While significant progress is being made, many hurdles still exist for chronically homeless veterans wanting to find housing.
“Veterans who serve their country in order to protect our freedoms should never face homelessness,” Brown said. “The Homeless Veterans Prevention Act would help Ohio veterans by providing additional resources that help keep these men and women off the streets and start rebuilding their lives by finding transitional housing to meet their needs.”
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 62,619 homeless veterans were determined to be homeless during a “point-in-time” survey conducted on a single night in January 2012.
At today’s event at Liberty at St. Clair, Brown outlined how the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act would improve prevention programs and increase the availability of transitional housing for female veterans. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Improve homelessness prevention programs by allowing the VA to develop public-private partnerships focused on increasing the availability of legal services available to homeless veterans to help obtain proper identification, representation before the court system, and assistance with legal issues associated with housing and family law. A recent VA survey found that lack of legal services was one of the top four unmet needs among homeless veterans.
- Increase transitional housing programs by establishing strict standards for grantees to meet the needs of female veterans by providing gender-specific housing. The Act would also help keep families together by allowing dependents in to transitional programs.
- Expand existing programs by increasing the current eligibility for the Homeless Veterans Dental Program to include HUD-VASH participants and reauthorizes several current VA programs that fund drop-in centers, rapid re-housing and transitional programs, and employment assistance.
Joining Brown to raise awareness of this issue was Kathleen Penman, the Homeless Outreach Coordinator for the Cleveland VA Medical Center; and Eric Morse, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Frontline Service, an organization dedicated to fighting homelessness.
“The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center is dedicated to meeting the goal of ending veteran homelessness and is working hard with community partners to improve access to resources and housing for those at risk of homelessness or homeless,” Penman said.
“We truly appreciate Senator Brown’s commitment to our veterans,” Morse said. “This bill represents just one of the steps he has taken to help end homelessness for the tens of thousands veterans still in need of stable, supportive housing, as well as prevent veteran homelessness in the future. The Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Senator Brown, will support places like Liberty, which provides affordable housing and comprehensive services to some of our veterans with the greatest needs.”
Brown was also joined by Arvell Sullivan, a former U.S. Marine and current resident of the Liberty who has spent years in and out of homelessness.
Brown is the only Ohio Senator to serve a full term on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is Co-Chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus. He is also an original cosponsor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Law, which offers job retraining assistance to veterans between 35 and 60 years of age.
During an October press conference in Cleveland, Brown outlined a plan that would reduce unemployment among recently-returned servicemembers and ease their transition into the civilian workforce by establishing new resources to better match the skills learned in the service to those sought by employers in fastest-growing fields.