The American Legion welcomed VA’s five-year plan to end homelessness among veterans, an issue the Legion has been addressing for several years. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced the comprehensive plan at the VA National Summit Ending Homelessness Among Veterans in Washington on Nov. 4.
“Anyone who has served our country in uniform should have a roof over their heads,” said American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill. “To have even one veteran out there living in the streets is a disgrace. We’ve been working with VA and Congress on this issue for some time, and Secretary Shinseki’s five-year plan is definitely a solid step in the right direction.”
The American Legion has been urging Congress for some time to pass legislation that would reduce homelessness among veterans. On Oct. 21, the Legion testified on the issue before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee; it has also frequently shared its expertise with VA’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans.
At its National Executive Committee meeting last month, The American Legion called upon Congress to authorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide more affordable housing for veterans. The country’s largest veterans organization also seeks to expand the highly successful HUD-VASH program, recommending the allotment of 20,000 vouchers annually, and making the program permanent.
The American Legion also wants Congress to establish a grant program that would provide assistance to veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless.
VA will spend $3.2 billion next year to prevent and reduce homelessness among veterans. That includes $2.7 billion on medical services and more than $500 million on specific homeless programs.