Rep. Zeldin Introduces New Veterans Bill to Permanently Extend an Expiring Grant Funding Program that Helps House Low Income Veterans
Washington, DC - Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-1) this week introduced new legislation in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3680, to make permanent a grant funding program that is expiring at the end of this year, the Supportive Services Veteran Families (SSVF) program, that provides financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing. You can view a copy of the bill here.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), on a single night in January 2016, there were 39,471 homeless veterans in the United States. Of those homeless veterans, 26,404 were staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs or safe havens while 13,067 veterans were found in places not suitable for human habitation. While veterans constituted only 9 percent of the U.S. adult population in 2015, they made up 11 percent of the U.S. homeless adult population.
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program, which is authorized by Congress and administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been a critical resource for helping low income and homeless veterans. The SSVF Program provides supportive services grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives, which in turn coordinate and/or provide supportive services to very low-income veteran families. Entities receiving supportive services grants must utilize the funds to provide supportive outreach services to homeless veterans and their families. The services include but are not limited to case management services, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and support in obtaining and coordinating other public benefits available in the grantee’s area or community. In addition, the organizations provide temporary financial assistance to veterans as needed. SSVF prioritizes the delivery of rapid re-housing services to homeless veteran households, an intervention designed to help individuals and families exit homelessness, return to housing in the community, and avoid homelessness again in the near term. Currently, the SSVF program must be reauthorized by Congress every five years. Congressman Zeldin’s bill would make this program permanent.
In 2017, the VA awarded $587,328,694 in 367 individual SSVF grants to organizations across the country. In Suffolk County, $9,445,001 of SSVF grants enabled three organizations to provide services to homeless veterans.
Congressman Zeldin said, “Supporting our nation’s veterans and ensuring all veterans across this great nation receive the proper treatment, care and support is a responsibility we all share. These brave men and women answered the call to service and repeatedly put their lives at risk to support and defend our Constitution and ensure the safety and security of our country. Although homelessness among veterans has decreased since 2010, the issue remains one of national significance – even one homeless veteran is too many. I am proud to introduce legislation which will ensure these heroes receive much needed support services. The SSVF program is fundamental to our efforts to end veteran homelessness as it enables organizations across the country to provide shelter and essential services to members of the veteran community in need. Extending these grants affirms our commitment to ending veteran homelessness across the country and preserves the important programs that so many of our veterans rely upon. Ensuring our homeless veterans have shelter and a safe place to live should never be a partisan issue. Congress must pass this bill and make the SSVF program permanent.”
“We thank Congressman Zeldin for introducing this bill that would make permanent the SSVF program, eliminating the need for future reauthorizations,” said Adrian Fassett, C.E.O. of the Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc. “Through this vital program, EOC of Suffolk, Inc. looks forward to continuing to provide housing and other critical support services for low-income homeless Veterans.”
Tom Ronayne, Director of Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, said, “SSVF has enabled countless veterans to either remain in familiar living environments or provide them with opportunities to get into a safer, more secure and stable living environment. The ripple effect of this is that veterans and their family members remain employed or become more employable. We are very concerned that SSVF remains in place, especially here in Suffolk County where we have one of the largest veteran populations in the country. I wholeheartedly support Congressman Zeldin’s efforts to permanently secure it.”
“Since Services for the UnderServed (SUS) began working with Long Island’s veterans through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grant in 2013, we have been able to assist over 2,000 veterans with housing and homelessness prevention services in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. This has had a life-changing impact on veterans and their families. Sadly, homelessness will continue to affect many, and having SSVF in place to help veterans in their time of need is of the utmost importance. SUS fully supports Congressman Zeldin’s proposal to permanently extend the SSVF grant,” said Beth Gabellini, MS, LMSW, Regional Director, Veterans Division Long Island, Services for the UnderServed.
“SSVF plays a critical role in preventing veterans’ homelessness and rapidly rehousing veterans in the event that they become homeless. Without this crucial funding, the incredible progress the Long Island community has made in ending veterans homelessness would be impossible. The Supportive Housing Network of New York supports legislation to make this life-saving resource permanent,” said Laura Mascuch, Executive Director, Supportive Housing Network of New York.