H.R. 6361 (112th): Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2012

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Sep 20, 2012 (Referred to Senate Committee).

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IIB

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6361

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

September 20, 2012

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

AN ACT

To exclude from consideration as income under the United States Housing Act of 1937 payments of pension made under section 1521 of title 38, United States Code, to veterans who are in need of regular aid and attendance, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2012.

2.

Exclusion from income

Paragraph (4) of section 3(b) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437a(b)(4)) is amended—

(1)

by striking and any amounts and inserting , any amounts;

(2)

by striking or any deferred and inserting , any deferred; and

(3)

by inserting after prospective monthly amounts the following: , and any expenses related to aid and attendance as detailed under section 1521 of title 38, United States Code.

3.

Utility allowances and data

Section 8(o) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f(o)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (2), by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(D)

Utility allowance

(i)

In general

In determining the monthly assistance payment for a family under subparagraphs (A) and (B), the amount allowed for tenant-paid utilities shall not exceed the appropriate utility allowance for the family unit size as determined by the public housing agency regardless of the size of the dwelling unit leased by the family.

(ii)

Exception for certain families

Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), upon request by a family that includes a person with disabilities, an elderly family, or a family that includes any person who is less than 18 years of age, the public housing agency shall approve a utility allowance that is higher than the applicable amount on the utility allowance schedule, except that in the case of a family that includes a person with disabilities, the agency shall approve such higher amount only if a higher utility allowance is needed as a reasonable accommodation to make the program accessible to and usable by the family member with a disability.

(iii)

Authority to increase allowance

Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), in the case of any family not described in clause (ii), a public housing agency may, at the request of the family, approve a utility allowance that is higher than the applicable amount on the utility allowance schedule. In making such a determination, the agency shall consider (I) the amount of the increase in utility costs for the family, and (II) the difficulty for the family in relocating.

; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(21)

Utility data

(A)

Publication

The Secretary shall, to the extent that data can be collected cost effectively, regularly publish such data regarding utility consumption and costs in local areas as the Secretary determines will be useful for the establishment of allowances for tenant-paid utilities for families assisted under this subsection.

(B)

Use of data

The Secretary shall provide such data in a manner that—

(i)

avoids unnecessary administrative burdens for public housing agencies and owners; and

(ii)

protects families in various unit sizes and building types, and using various utilities, from high rent and utility cost burdens relative to income.

.

4.

Pilot program for grants for rehabilitation and modification of homes of disabled and low-income veterans

(a)

Grant

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall establish a pilot program to award grants to qualified organizations to rehabilitate and modify the primary residence of eligible veterans.

(2)

Coordination

The Secretary shall work in conjunction with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish and oversee the pilot program and to ensure that such program meets the needs of eligible veterans.

(3)

Maximum grant

A grant award under the pilot program to any one qualified organization shall not exceed $1,000,000 in any one fiscal year, and such an award shall remain available until expended by such organization.

(b)

Application

(1)

In general

Each qualified organization that desires a grant under the pilot program shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and, in addition to the information required under paragraph (2), accompanied by such information as the Secretary may reasonably require.

(2)

Contents

Each application submitted under paragraph (1) shall include—

(A)

a plan of action detailing outreach initiatives;

(B)

the approximate number of veterans the qualified organization intends to serve using grant funds;

(C)

a description of the type of work that will be conducted, such as interior home modifications, energy efficiency improvements, and other similar categories of work; and

(D)

a plan for working with the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans service organizations to identify veterans and serve their needs.

(3)

Preferences

In awarding grants under the pilot program, the Secretary shall give preference to a qualified organization—

(A)

with experience in providing housing rehabilitation and modification services for disabled veterans; or

(B)

that proposes to provide housing rehabilitation and modification services for eligible veterans who live in rural areas (the Secretary, through regulations, shall define the term rural areas).

(c)

Criteria

In order to receive a grant award under the pilot program, a qualified organization shall meet the following criteria:

(1)

Demonstrate expertise in providing housing rehabilitation and modification services for disabled or low-income individuals for the purpose of making the homes of such individuals accessible, functional, and safe for such individuals.

(2)

Have established outreach initiatives that—

(A)

would engage eligible veterans and veterans service organizations in projects utilizing grant funds under the pilot program; and

(B)

identify eligible veterans and their families and enlist veterans involved in skilled trades, such as carpentry, roofing, plumbing, or HVAC work.

(3)

Have an established nationwide or State-wide network of affiliates that are—

(A)

nonprofit organizations; and

(B)

able to provide housing rehabilitation and modification services for eligible veterans.

(4)

Have experience in successfully carrying out the accountability and reporting requirements involved in the proper administration of grant funds, including funds provided by private entities or Federal, State, or local government entities.

(d)

Use of funds

A grant award under the pilot program shall be used—

(1)

to modify and rehabilitate the primary residence of an eligible veteran, and may include—

(A)

installing wheelchair ramps, widening exterior and interior doors, reconfigurating and re-equipping bathrooms (which includes installing new fixtures and grab bars), removing doorway thresholds, installing special lighting, adding additional electrical outlets and electrical service, and installing appropriate floor coverings to—

(i)

accommodate the functional limitations that result from having a disability; or

(ii)

if such residence does not have modifications necessary to reduce the chances that an elderly, but not disabled person, will fall in their home, reduce the risks of such an elderly person from falling;

(B)

rehabilitating such residence that is in a state of interior or exterior disrepair; and

(C)

installing energy efficient features or equipment if—

(i)

an eligible veteran’s monthly utility costs for such residence is more than 5 percent of such veteran’s monthly income; and

(ii)

an energy audit of such residence indicates that the installation of energy efficient features or equipment will reduce such costs by 10 percent or more;

(2)

in connection with modification and rehabilitation services provided under the pilot program, to provide technical, administrative, and training support to an affiliate of a qualified organization receiving a grant under such pilot program; and

(3)

for other purposes as the Secretary may prescribe through regulations.

(e)

Oversight

The Secretary shall direct the oversight of the grant funds for the pilot program so that such funds are used efficiently until expended to fulfill the purpose of addressing the adaptive housing needs of eligible veterans.

(f)

Matching funds

(1)

In general

A qualified organization receiving a grant under the pilot program shall contribute towards the housing modification and rehabilitation services provided to eligible veterans an amount equal to not less than 50 percent of the grant award received by such organization.

(2)

In-kind contributions

In order to meet the requirement under paragraph (1), such organization may arrange for in-kind contributions.

(g)

Limitation cost to the veterans

A qualified organization receiving a grant under the pilot program shall modify or rehabilitate the primary residence of an eligible veteran at no cost to such veteran (including application fees) or at a cost such that such veteran pays no more than 30 percent of his or her income in housing costs during any month.

(h)

Reports

(1)

Annual report

The Secretary shall submit to Congress, on an annual basis, a report that provides, with respect to the year for which such report is written—

(A)

the number of eligible veterans provided assistance under the pilot program;

(B)

the socioeconomic characteristics of such veterans, including their gender, age, race, and ethnicity;

(C)

the total number, types, and locations of entities contracted under such program to administer the grant funding;

(D)

the amount of matching funds and in-kind contributions raised with each grant;

(E)

a description of the housing rehabilitation and modification services provided, costs saved, and actions taken under such program;

(F)

a description of the outreach initiatives implemented by the Secretary to educate the general public and eligible entities about such program;

(G)

a description of the outreach initiatives instituted by grant recipients to engage eligible veterans and veteran service organizations in projects utilizing grant funds under such program;

(H)

a description of the outreach initiatives instituted by grant recipients to identify eligible veterans and their families; and

(I)

any other information that the Secretary considers relevant in assessing such program.

(2)

Final report

Not later than 6 months after the completion of the pilot program, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report that provides such information that the Secretary considers relevant in assessing the pilot program.

(i)

Definitions

In this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1)

Disabled

The term disabled means an individual with a disability, as defined by section 12102 of title 42, United States Code.

(2)

Eligible veteran

The term eligible veteran means a disabled or low-income veteran.

(3)

Energy efficient features or equipment

The term energy efficient features or equipment means features of, or equipment in, a primary residence that help reduce the amount of electricity used to heat, cool, or ventilate such residence, including insulation, weatherstripping, air sealing, heating system repairs, duct sealing, or other measures.

(4)

Low-income veteran

The term low-income veteran means a veteran whose income does not exceed 80 percent of the median income for an area, as determined by the Secretary.

(5)

Nonprofit organization

The term nonprofit organization means an organization that is—

(A)

described in section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; and

(B)

exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code.

(6)

Primary residence

(A)

In general

The term primary residence means a single family house, a duplex, or a unit within a multiple-dwelling structure that is an eligible veteran’s principal dwelling and is owned by such veteran or a family member of such veteran.

(B)

Family member defined

For purposes of this paragraph, the term family member includes—

(i)

a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, or sibling;

(ii)

a spouse of such a child, grandchild, parent, or sibling; or

(iii)

any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a veteran is the equivalent of a family relationship.

(7)

Qualified organization

The term qualified organization means a nonprofit organization that provides nationwide or State-wide programs that primarily serve veterans or low-income individuals.

(8)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

(9)

Veteran

The term veteran has the same meaning as given such term in section 101 of title 38, United States Code.

(10)

Veterans service organization

The term veterans service organization means any organization recognized by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the representation of veterans under section 5902 of title 38, United States Code.

(j)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated for carrying out this section $4,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2013 through 2017.

Passed the House of Representatives September 19, 2012.

Karen L. Haas,

Clerk