Legislation would improve the availability of legal services for homeless veterans and those at-risk of homelessness
WASHINGTON, DC – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) recently introduced the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act, H.R. 1993, legislation to allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to partner with public and private entities to increase legal services for homeless and at-risk of homelessness veterans. Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) and Congressman Pat Tiberi (OH-12) are the lead cosponsors of the Homeless Veteran Legal Services Act.
Under current law, the VA is only authorized to fund legal services for veterans through the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program and the Grant Per Diem (GDP) program. Yet, according to the latest Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups Survey (Project CHALENG Survey), legal assistance continues to be among the most pressing needs for our nation’s veterans. In fact, the 2015 CHALENG Survey found that legal assistance accounted for four out of the top ten unmet needs for men and women veterans.
“Our nation made a lifelong promise to our veterans; and clearly, we can and must do more,” Beatty said. “Providing expanded access to free, high-quality legal services—whether that be assisting in restoring their driver’s license, preventing eviction or the loss of their home, or resolving child support issues, to name a few—is one way we can do so immediately.” Beatty continued, “This bill reaffirms the promise to serve those who answered the call to serve in the Armed Forces.”
“It is devastating to see so many of our veterans fall into homelessness after bravely serving our country,” Stivers said. “We have an obligation to help those who have made tremendous sacrifices for our freedoms. This bill is an important step in giving the homeless veterans in our community more resources and opportunities to move out of homelessness.”
“For years, homeless veterans in Ohio and across the nation have described obtaining legal help as one of their most urgent needs to help them successfully transition to civilian life,” Tiberi said. “The Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act authorizes the VA to form partnerships with organizations that provide legal services so that veterans can more easily receive the help they need. I thank Representatives Beatty and Stivers for their work and for joining me on this important bipartisan effort.”
In addition to Stivers and Tiberi, the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act has the support of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation.
“Many veterans continue to make sacrifices long after they’ve come home,” ABA President Linda A. Klein said. “They encounter a variety of legal problems, including loss of a home or a job, wrongful denial of benefits and credit problems. That’s where lawyers can make a difference. Allowing increased private-public partnerships with the VA will improve these veterans’ access to legal help and provide desperately needed progress toward ending the crisis of veteran homelessness in this country.”
Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Executive Director Angela Lloyd also hailed the bill, issuing a statement that read, “The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation commends Congresswoman Beatty, Congressman Stivers, and Congressman Tiberi for their bipartisan leadership on this important bill that will provide increased legal services for our veterans. Legal assistance continues to be one of the most pressing needs of our veterans and is often critical to ensuring that our veterans obtain safe housing, access benefits they have earned, and fight consumer fraud.”
The Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and is awaiting further consideration.