04.23.15

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Supports ‘Homeless Veterans Welcome Home Act’ to Provide Support for Veterans Transitioning Into Permanent Housing

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has cosponsored the Homeless Veterans Welcome Home Act of 2015, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to establish a national pilot program to provide furniture, household items, and other assistance to help homeless veterans as they transition into permanent housing.

“We have a shared responsibility to meet the needs of veterans who served our nation and who are experiencing homelessness. Veterans are 50 percent more likely to experience homelessness than other Americans due to poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to support this legislation to help provide Wisconsin’s veterans with the critical assistance they deserve to acquire housing and meet their daily living needs.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), approximately 40,000 homeless veteran families receive permanent housing through VA housing assistance programs each year. However, most veterans who receive housing do not have the means to pay for critical household items and typically move into empty apartments. These veterans often have no means to cook or enjoy the basic comforts of a furnished home.

In 2012, the non-profit California Department of AMVETS, partnered with the West Los Angeles VA to create an innovative “Welcome Home” program that provides homeless veterans transitioning into permanent housing with furniture, appliances, and other necessary household items. The program has since expanded and has provided household items to over 1,450 formerly homeless veterans.

The Homeless Veterans Welcome Home Act is modeled on this successful public-private partnership, and will help fill an important gap in our assistance to homeless veterans by addressing their immediate move-in needs.

Specifically, the Homeless Veterans Welcome Home Act would:

  • Establish a 3-year pilot program to award grants to eligible organizations to facilitate the delivery of furniture, household items and other assistance to homeless veterans who qualify for housing under the VA’s housing assistance programs.
  • Require the VA to prioritize communities with the greatest need of homeless services and fair geographic distribution when awarding grants.
  • Cap the maximum amount awarded per grant at $500,000, and the maximum amount of assistance provided to an eligible veteran at $2,500.
  • Authorize $5 million for 3 years to be appropriated for the program.

This bill is endorsed by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and Swords to Plowshares.