S. 1547 (111th): Zero Tolerance for Veterans Homelessness Act of 2009

The text of the bill below is as of Aug 5, 2009 (Reference Change).

Source: GPO

II

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1547

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

July 30, 2009

(for himself, Mr. Bond, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Kerry, and Mr. Durbin) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

August 5, 2009

Committee discharged; referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, and the United States Housing Act of 1937 to enhance and expand the assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Zero Tolerance for Veterans Homelessness Act of 2009.

2.

Findings

Congress finds that—

(1)

veterans are at a greater risk of becoming homeless than other people in the United States, because of characteristics that include—

(A)

having employment-related skills that are unique to military service and that can be difficult to transfer to the civilian sector;

(B)

combat-related health issues;

(C)

earning minimal income or being unemployed; and

(D)

a shortage of safe, affordable housing;

(2)

the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that—

(A)

131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night;

(B)

more than 200,000 veterans experience homelessness each year; and

(C)

veterans account for nearly 1/5 of all homeless people in the United States;

(3)

approximately 1,500,000 veterans, nearly 6.3 percent of the veterans in the United States, have an income that falls below the Federal poverty level, and approximately 634,000 veterans have an income below 50 percent of the Federal poverty level;

(4)

the Department of Veterans Affairs is only adequately funded to respond to the health, housing, and supportive services needs of approximately 1/3 of the veterans in the United States; and

(5)

it is expected that significant increases in services will be needed to serve the aging veterans of the Vietnam war and members of the Armed Forces returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

3.

Program on prevention of veteran homelessness

(a)

Program on prevention of veteran homelessness

(1)

In general

Subchapter VII of chapter 20 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

2067.

Prevention of veteran homelessness

(a)

Prevention of veteran homelessness

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary shall establish a program within the Veterans Benefits Administration to prevent veteran homelessness by—

(1)

identifying in a timely fashion any veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless; and

(2)

providing assistance sufficient to ensure that each veteran identified under paragraph (1) does not become or remain homeless.

(b)

Types of assistance

The assistance provided under subsection (a)(2) may include the following:

(1)

The provision of short-term or medium-term rental assistance.

(2)

Housing relocation and stabilization services, including housing search, mediation, and outreach to property owners.

(3)

Services to resolve personal credit issues that have led to negative credit reports.

(4)

Assistance with paying security or utility deposits and utility payments.

(5)

Assistance with covering costs associated with moving.

(6)

A referral to a program of another department or agency of the Federal Government.

(7)

Such other activities as the Secretary considers appropriate to prevent veterans homelessness.

(c)

No duplication of services

The Secretary may provide assistance under subsection (a)(2) to a veteran receiving supportive services from an eligible entity receiving financial assistance under section 2044 of this title only to the extent that the assistance provided under subsection (a)(2) does not duplicate the supportive services provided to such veteran by such entity.

(d)

Staffing

The Secretary shall assign such employees at such locations as the Secretary considers necessary to carry out this section.

(e)

Authorization of Appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014.

.

(2)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 20 of such title is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

2067. Prevention of veteran homelessness.

.

(b)

Responsibilities of homeless veterans program coordinators

Section 2003(a) of such title is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (3), by striking The housing and inserting Any housing;

(2)

by redesignating paragraph (7) as paragraph (8); and

(3)

by inserting after paragraph (6) the following new paragraph (7):

(7)

The program under section 2067 of this title.

.

(c)

Report

Not later than 180 days after the date of the establishment of the program required by section 2067 of title 38, United States Code, as added by paragraph (1), the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress a report on the operation of such program.

4.

Enhancement of comprehensive service programs

(a)

Enhancement of grants

Section 2011 of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a), by striking Subject to the availability of appropriations provided for such purpose, the and inserting The;

(2)

in subsection (b)(1)(A), by inserting new construction, before expansion; and

(3)

in subsection (c)—

(A)

in the first sentence, by striking A grant and inserting (1) A grant;

(B)

in the second sentence of paragraph (1), as designated by subparagraph (A), by striking The amount and inserting the following:

(2)

The amount

; and

(C)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(3)
(A)

The Secretary may not deny an application from an entity that seeks a grant under this section to carry out a project described in subsection (b)(1)(A) solely on the basis that the entity proposes to use funding from other private or public sources, if the entity demonstrates that a private nonprofit organization will provide oversight and site control for the project.

(B)

In this paragraph, the term private nonprofit organization means the following:

(i)

An incorporated private institution, organization, or foundation—

(I)

that has received, or has temporary clearance to receive, tax-exempt status under paragraphs (2), (3), or (19) of section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

(II)

for which no part of the net earnings of the institution or foundation inures to the benefit of any member, founder, or contributor of the institution or foundation; and

(III)

that the Secretary determines is financially responsible.

(ii)

A for-profit limited partnership or limited liability company, the sole general partner of which is an organization that is described by subclauses (I) through (III) of clause (i).

(iii)

A corporation wholly owned and controlled by an organization that is described by subclauses (I) through (III) of clause (i).

.

(b)

Study and report on per diem payments

(1)

Study and development of payment method

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall—

(A)

complete a study of all matters relating to the method used by the Secretary to make per diem payments under section 2012(a) of title 38, United States Code; and

(B)

develop an improved method for adequately reimbursing recipients of grants under section 2011 of such title for services furnished to homeless veterans.

(2)

Consideration

In developing the method required by paragraph (1)(B), the Secretary may consider payments and grants received by recipients of grants described in such paragraph from other departments and agencies of Federal and local governments and from private entities.

(3)

Report

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress a report on—

(A)

the findings of the Secretary with respect to the study required by subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1);

(B)

the method developed under subparagraph (B) of such paragraph; and

(C)

any recommendations of the Secretary for revising the method described in subparagraph (A) of such paragraph and any legislative action the Secretary considers necessary to implement such method.

(c)

Authorization of appropriations

Section 2013 of such title is amended by striking subchapter $150,000,000 and all that follows through the period and inserting the following: “subchapter—

(1)

$200,000,000 for fiscal year 2010; and

(2)

such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2014.

.

5.

HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Vouchers

Section 8(o)(19) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f(o)(19)) is amended to read as follows:

(19)

Rental vouchers for veterans affairs supported housing program

(A)

Rental vouchers

The Secretary shall make available to public housing agencies described in subparagraph (C) the amounts described in subparagraph (B), to provide rental assistance through a supported housing program administered in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(B)

Amount

The amounts specified in this subparagraph are the amounts necessary to ensure that—

(i)

not more than 30,000 vouchers for rental assistance under this paragraph are outstanding at any one time during fiscal year 2010;

(ii)

not more than 40,000 vouchers for rental assistance under this paragraph are outstanding at any one time during fiscal year 2011;

(iii)

not more than 50,000 vouchers for rental assistance under this paragraph are outstanding at any one time during fiscal year 2012; and

(iv)

not more than 60,000 vouchers for rental assistance under this paragraph are outstanding at any one time during fiscal year 2013 and each fiscal year thereafter.

(C)

Public housing agencies

A public housing agency described in this subparagraph is a public housing agency that—

(i)

has a partnership with a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center or an entity determined to be appropriate by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;

(ii)

is located in an area that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines has a high concentration of veterans in need of assistance;

(iii)

has demonstrated expertise in providing housing for homeless individuals; and

(iv)

meets any other criteria that the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may prescribe.

(D)

Case management

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall ensure that the case managers described in section 2003(b) of title 38, United States Code, provide appropriate case management for each veteran who receives rental assistance under this paragraph that—

(i)

assists the veteran in—

(I)

locating available housing;

(II)

working with the appropriate public housing agency;

(III)

accessing benefits and health services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and other departments and agencies of the Federal Government;

(IV)

negotiating with landlords; and

(V)

other areas, as the Secretary determines is necessary to help the veteran maintain housing or avoid homelessness; and

(ii)

ensures that a veteran with a severe disability, including a veteran that has been homeless for a substantial period of time, is referred to sufficient supportive services to provide the veteran with stable housing, including—

(I)

mental health services, including treatment and recovery support services;

(II)

substance abuse treatment and recovery support services, including counseling, treatment planning, recovery coaching, and relapse prevention;

(III)

integrated, coordinated treatment and recovery support services for co-occurring disorders;

(IV)

health education, including referrals for medical and dental care;

(V)

services designed to help individuals make progress toward self-sufficiency and recovery, including job training, assistance in seeking employment, benefits advocacy, money management, life-skills training, self-help programs, and engagement and motivational interventions;

(VI)

parental skills and family support; and

(VII)

other supportive services that promote an end to chronic homelessness.

.

6.

Special assistant for veterans affairs in office of secretary of housing and urban development

Section 4 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act (42 U.S.C. 3533) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(g)

Special assistant for veterans affairs

(1)

Establishment

There shall be in the Department a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs, who shall be in the Office of the Secretary.

(2)

Appointment

The Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs shall be appointed by the Secretary, based solely on merit and shall be covered under the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service.

(3)

Responsibilities

The Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs shall be responsible for—

(A)

ensuring that veterans have access to housing and homeless assistance under each program of the Department providing such assistance;

(B)

coordinating all programs and activities of the Department relating to veterans; and

(C)

carrying out such other duties as may be assigned to the Special Assistant by the Secretary or by law.

.

7.

Homeless Veterans Management Information System

(a)

In general

Subchapter VII of chapter 20 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by section 3(b), is further amended by adding at the end the following new section:

2068.

Homeless Veterans Management Information System

(a)

Method for data collection and aggregation

(1)

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary shall, in consultation with the Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness established under section 201 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11311), establish a method for the collection and aggregation of data on homeless veterans participating in programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the following:

(A)

The age, race, sex, disability status, marital status of the veteran, income, employment history, and whether the veteran is a parent.

(B)

If the veteran received housing assistance, the number of days that the veteran resided in such housing, and the type of housing in which the veteran resided.

(C)

If the veteran is no longer participating in a program, the reason the veteran left the program.

(2)

The method required by paragraph (1) shall be established in a manner that ensures that each veteran is counted only once.

(b)

Annual data collection and aggregation

Not later than one year after the method is established under subsection (a), and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall collect and aggregate data using the method established under subsection (a).

(c)

Annual reports

Not later than two years after the date of enactment of this section and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the data collected and aggregated under subsection (b).

(d)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section—

(1)

$10,000,000 for fiscal year 2010; and

(2)

such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2011 through 2014.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 20 of such title is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

2068. Homeless Veterans Management Information System.

.

8.

Plan to end veteran homelessness

(a)

In general

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress a comprehensive plan to end homelessness among veterans that includes—

(1)

an analysis of programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs and other departments and agencies of the Federal Government that are designed to prevent homelessness among veterans and assist veterans who are homeless;

(2)

an evaluation of whether and how partnerships between the programs described in paragraph (1) would contribute to ending homelessness among veterans;

(3)

recommendations for improving the programs described in paragraph (1), creating partnerships between such programs, or eliminating programs that are no longer effective;

(4)

recommendations for new programs to prevent and end homelessness among veterans, including an estimation of the cost of such programs;

(5)

a timeline for implementing the plan; and

(6)

such other information as the Secretary determines necessary.

(b)

Consideration of veterans located in rural areas

The analysis, evaluation, and recommendations included in the report required by subsection (a) shall include consideration of the circumstances and requirements that are unique to veterans located in rural areas.