Torres introduces bill to combat veteran homelessness

Poor homeless man or refugee sleeping on the wooden bench on the urban street in the city, social documentary concept, selective focus, black and white
U.S Rep. Ritchie Torres introduced a veteran homelessness bill to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs has the necessary resources and funding to aid homeless veterans.
Photo Getty Images

On Sept. 21, U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres introduced the “Combating Veteran Homelessness Act of 2021,” HR 5301, to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the necessary resources and funding to aid homeless veterans, support ending-homeless organizations, and provide assistance and training to the Homeless Program Office. 

 The “Combating Veteran Homelessness Act of 2021” would allow the VA to provide technical assistance and education to ending-homelessness organizations and housing-providers. It removes the cap on training and technical assistance provided by the VA’s Homeless Program Office. Currently, the VA provides technical assistance to programs that provide shelter for unhoused veterans primarily during the grant application process.

Funding for this support has not increased alongside the significant growth of these programs since they were established. The legislation would remove the current cap on technical assistance spending for these programs to ensure that grantees are receiving the best support possible and would allow for training of organizations on how best to serve our nation’s homeless veterans.

 According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2020 Homeless Assessment Report, 37,252 veterans were experiencing homelessness in the U.S., 8% of all homeless adults. A recent study also found that homeless veterans who reported they had more than seven nights without shelter in the previous six months were more likely to be unmarried, have interacted with the criminal justice system, lack social support, have health conditions and substance use issues, and generate too little income to meet basic needs.

 “In order to honor the veterans who proudly served our country and sacrificed so much, we must ensure that they have a stable roof over their heads and can afford basic needs,” Torres said. “This bipartisan bill will assist the organizations that do the hard work to combat veteran homelessness across the country. As the pandemic continues to exacerbate the homelessness and housing affordability crises, we must use all tools available to support housing providers and on-the-ground organizations that shelter homeless veterans. I am proud to introduce this important legislation to end veteran homelessness with Rep. [Peter] Meijer. I am encouraged by the work of the VA and other organizations to support veterans experiencing homelessness, but it is clear more work must be done to truly tackle this national problem. I look forward to pushing this bill and advocating for veterans who fought to protect our freedoms and national values.”