U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today helped pass legislation to expand housing assistance and supportive services for homeless veterans.  H.R.3329, the Homes for Heroes Act, which Smith cosponsored, overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 412-19.

“It is an absolute shame that after years of faithful service to their country, thousands of veterans spend their nights sleeping on the streets or are under the constant threat of becoming homeless. We must do more to support these individuals who served their country. This bill is a step in the right direction to ensure our veterans receive the support and services they need,” Smith said.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 400,000 veterans are homeless at some point during the year, with nearly 200,000 homeless on any given night. This makes up a quarter of the entire homeless population of the United States. Many more low income veterans and their families live at the margins and are at risk of becoming homeless in the absence of permanent housing solutions and supportive services. In fact, 1.5 million veterans have incomes that fall below the federal poverty level, including 634,000 with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty line.

Specifically, the Homes for Heroes Act:

  • Authorizes $200 million for an assistance program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for supportive housing and services for low-income veterans.
  • Directs HUD to provide at least 20,000 rental vouchers a year for homeless veterans.
  • Establishes the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs within HUD to coordinate and oversee the Department’s assistance programs for veterans.
  • Requires HUD to submit a comprehensive annual report to Congress on the housing needs of homeless veterans and the steps HUD has taken under the programs provided for in this bill.

The Senate must now consider H.R. 3329 before the President can sign it into law.