Remarks of Assistant Secretary for
Community Planning and Development
Before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
September 20, 2001
2716, the Homeless Veterans Assistance Act of 2001 and H.R.
936, the Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans Assistance Act
Smith, Ranking Member Evans, and other distinguished members of
the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, thank you for this opportunity
to appear before you to discuss the role of the Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD) in supporting America's homeless veterans.
nation owes its veterans a tremendous debt, for their sacrifices
have made America strong and able to take on its aggressors. When
a veteran joins the military, the federal government makes a contract
with them that they will be cared for, and that is a promise the
government will keep. Veterans who need our help must know that
we will not turn our back on them.
more than half a century - predating the creation of HUD itself
- the federal government has worked specifically to meet the housing
needs of this nation's veterans. After World War II, HUD's Federal
Housing Administration's mortgage insurance teamed up with the Department
of Veterans' Affairs' (VA) mortgage guarantees to help returning
veterans achieve the American Dream and buy their own homes, which
they did in record numbers. Since HUD's creation in 1965, we have
sought to improve housing opportunities for America's veterans by
ensuring a coordinated federal response.
least 600,000 people in this country are homeless on any given night.
VA estimates that more than a quarter million are veterans; of those,
approximately 80 percent are disabled. Each year, half a million
veterans find themselves without a home at some point.
of these veterans have special needs or face extreme personal circumstances
that propel them in and out of homelessness. Many have nowhere to
go except back out on the streets when they are unable to access
homeless shelters or transitional housing. Their lives are revolving
doors that again and again return them to homelessness.
July, in a speech before the National Alliance to End Homelessness,
Secretary Martinez endorsed the goal of investing in permanent solutions
to end chronic homelessness within ten years. The Bush Administration
is reactivating the Interagency Council on the Homeless as a first
Council was established in 1987 to help streamline Washington's
approach to homelessness by coordinating the efforts of 16 federal
agencies and other designated groups. Yet, the full Council has
not met in more than five years. We will put it back to work: planning
and coordinating federal homeless programs, reducing duplication,
recommending improvements, and offering assistance to our partners
at the community level.
of course, is a primary resource for homeless veterans, and we commend
Secretary Principi and his department for the exceptional service
they provide. HUD and VA share a number of crosscutting responsibilities;
for example, both agencies maintain separate programs that provide
housing and supportive services to veterans. With this new emphasis
on cooperation, we pledge to better coordinate with our counterparts
at VA and other federal agencies in order to serve the homeless
veteran population more efficiently and effectively.
with national service organizations, HUD established HUDVET, a resource
center for veterans through which we provide information on community-based
programs and services, with an emphasis on veterans who are homeless.
At the suggestion of veterans groups, an individual with special
knowledge of veterans' needs - who is himself a combat-disabled
Vietnam veteran - oversees the HUDVET program.
the federal government's primary provider of targeted homeless assistance,
HUD has the lead federal role in finding homes for the homeless.
That is appropriate: we have 36 years of experience in helping Americans
find safe and affordable shelter. HUD's homeless funding represents
nearly three-fourths of all targeted federal homeless assistance.
assistance projects funded by HUD fall into one of two categories:
those projects that primarily serve veterans, and those projects
that target veterans as one of any number of key populations to
be served. In 2000, HUD funded 68 projects targeted specifically
to veterans, and another 1,348 projects that in some way supported
veterans. Based on grantee reports submitted to HUD for 1999, HUD's
homeless assistance programs served more than 160,000 homeless veterans.
It is important to point out that veterans may have been counted
more than once, if they were served by more than one HUD program
during the reporting period.
continues to reach out to veterans and veterans' organizations in
our grant applications by stressing the importance of serving veterans.
In both the 2001 Continuum of Care Notice of Funding of Availability
and the 2001 Continuum of Care application, applicants are asked
to target veterans.
FY 2002 budget for HUD demonstrates a strong support of homeless
veterans. In FY 2002, a total of $1.12 billion is provided for homeless
assistance grants and shelter plus care renewals. This will fund
four major programs, which I would like to briefly outline for the
HOUSING PROGRAM. The Supportive Housing Program provides funds
to develop supportive housing and services that allow homeless persons
to live as independently as possible. Funds offer up to 24 months
of transitional housing, and permanent housing for persons with
PLUS CARE. The Shelter Plus Care program provides rental assistance
for homeless persons with disabilities. This is a form of permanent
8 MODERATE REHABILITATION FOR SINGLE ROOM OCCUPANCY (SRO) DWELLINGS
FOR HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS PROGRAM. The Single Room Occupancy
program provides rental assistance on behalf of homeless individuals
through the moderate rehabilitation of SRO dwellings.
SHELTER GRANTS. HUD will provide approximately $150 million
in Emergency Shelter Grants for FY 2002. These grants are used for
the rehabilitation or conversion of buildings into homeless shelters,
as well as related social services, operating expenses, homeless
prevention activities, and administrative costs.
administers a number of other programs that reach out to veterans
and their families. These include HOME Investment Partnerships,
Title V, Community Development Block Grants, Homeownership of Single-Family
Homes and the Section 8 Homeownership Program, Lower-Income Rental
Assistance, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section
811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, and Federal
Housing Authority Mortgage Insurance Programs.
department has initiated an effort to develop and disseminate information
especially for organizations serving homeless veterans. This effort
includes developing guidebooks and holding conferences at which
HUD provides technical assistance information. We conducted one
of these technical assistance programs last month in Baltimore;
the next is scheduled for Santa Fe in November.
the coming years, HUD will make the goals of preventing homelessness
and ending chronic homelessness as high a priority as that of housing
the already homeless. We can do this by ensuring that individuals
who pass through mainstream social services - such as the mental
health, welfare, and criminal justice systems - do not move out
of those services and back into homelessness. HUD administers a
number of programs that touch the "potentially" homeless, and we
will work to highlight their availability and usefulness to our
Chairman, I appreciate your leadership in calling this hearing,
and I thank the Committee for its willingness to focus on this important
issue. HUD looks forward to working together with the Committee
and the appropriate federal agencies to combat homelessness among
our veteran population.
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