Rep. Carbajal Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Veteran Housing Affordability with Rep. Smucker
Home for the Brave Act has endorsement of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, National Coalition for the Homeless, and the Military Officers Association of America
Washington, November 2, 2023
Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) announced he is reintroducing bipartisan legislation aimed at improving housing access and affordability for U.S. veterans with Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-11).
The lawmakers’ Home for the Brave Act would exempt veterans' disability benefits from counting toward total income when determining their eligibility for housing assistance programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
"It is wrong to deny veterans access to housing assistance programs due to disability benefits they receive for service-related injury or illness," said Rep. Carbajal. "I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to make housing more affordable and accessible on the Central Coast and across the country. They stepped up to defend our nation and now Congress must step up for them by ending this housing discrimination against our disabled veterans."
"Our veterans put their lives at great risk to keep all of us safe back home. To return home and be priced out of housing assistance simply because they receive service-related disability benefits is just plain wrong," said Rep. Smucker. "Our district has made great strides to eliminate veteran homelessness, and I am proud to stand with my constituents in this noble effort. I want to thank Rep. Carbajal for his work on behalf of our nation's veterans and their families and look forward to working together to get this legislation passed."
Financial benefits for service-connected disabilities are currently counted as income when determining eligibility for housing assistance programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
As a result, many veterans are determined ineligible for these housing programs because their disability benefits are placing them at a higher income level.
Other agencies, including the International Revenue Service (IRS), do not consider veterans benefits for service-connected disabilities income.
A veteran filing disability claims with the VA received on average $20,600 in 2022.
The bill has endorsement of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), National Coalition for the Homeless, and the Military Officers Association of America.
"The VFW supports this legislation to ensure veterans will be able to fully utilize their earned benefits without the penalty of financial offsets," said VFW Director of National Legislative Services, Patrick Murray. "Using one earned VA benefit should never prevent a veteran from using another unrelated benefit. The VFW is glad to see this issue has the bipartisan support it deserves, and we thank Congressmen Carbajal and Smucker for making this a priority."
“Far too many of our nation’s heroes face the grim reality of homelessness following their time of service,” said American Legion National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer. “Moreso, veterans left with service-connected disabilities may experience discrimination through housing assistance programs within the Department of Housing & Urban Development. The American Legion is proud to address this injustice by supporting the Home for the Brave Act.”
"The Home for the Brave Act is a critical bipartisan solution to expand housing assistance for homeless veterans," said Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret), President and CEO of the Military Officers Association of America. "Service-disabled veterans receive compensation for injuries sustained in service to our nation. These payments should not restrict their access to housing programs when in need. We applaud Representatives Carbajal and Smucker for spearheading this legislation to address a major issue facing homeless veterans. MOAA urges Congress to swiftly enact the Home for the Brave Act and expand housing opportunities for those who have sacrificed for our country."
Rep. Carbajal, a Marine Corps veteran, announced he was reintroducing the bill today in a virtual press conference alongside veterans advocates from San Luis Obispo County, including the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO).
“Many of the most vulnerable Veterans in San Luis Obispo County are denied housing support simply because their disability is too severe, leading to compensatory rates that exceed minimal income limits established by HUD,” said Morgan Boyd, Veteran Services Officer with San Luis Obispo County. “The Home for the Brave Act addresses this burden on our Nation’s Veterans, and I fully support Congressman Carbajal’s initiative to ensure that our most vulnerable Veterans are afforded access to housing support they deserve.”
"This legislation will further assist the efforts of Veteran-specific homeless service providers in achieving the mission of ending Veteran Homelessness. Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) is a short-term emergency intervention for Veteran households who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. Our CAPSLO SSVF Program served 119 Veteran Households this past program year, which ended 9/30/23. While this legislation may not significantly impact the number of Veteran households we can serve, it will greatly increase access for our Veterans to long-term assistance programs through the VA, Public Housing Authorities, other HUD-funded programs, and impact the amount of financial assistance they can receive from SSVF. I want to emphasize how important this is for a short-term program like ours. A 100% Service Connected Disabled Veteran may meet income eligibility for SSVF, but would not be income eligible for the HUD VASH Program or a Housing Choice Voucher, ultimately putting their housing stability at risk once they have exhausted assistance with SSVF. SSVF does a phenomenal job of assisting our Veterans to obtain housing. The CAPSLO SSVF Program placed 53 homeless households into permanent housing last year and assisted an additional 7 households in retaining their current housing by avoiding eviction. Our average time from enrollment to placement was 75 days, well below the industry standard of 90 days. But the coordination and accessibility of long-term benefits, both subsidy and case management is the biggest challenge locally. This legislation can help bridge that gap. Our Disabled Veterans benefit from the long-term case management available through programs like HUD VASH but currently are oftentimes ineligible for those services due to the income levels associated with their disability benefits. This legislation could change that and greatly improve the care we provide to our most vulnerable Veterans,” said Brandy Graham, SSVF Program Manager of CAPSLO.
"On behalf of the CAPSLO Board of Directors, staff and all veterans in this country, I want to thank Congressman Carbajal for reintroducing Home for the Brave Act. This bill, when passed in a bipartisan manner, will enable our veterans and their families to receive the needed long term assistance. The veterans and their families need stable housing first! The IRS has determined that disability payments are not taxable...HUD housing programs need to be consistent with that ruling and not count disability compensation as income for veterans' housing programs. Additionally, this bill has broad support from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Military Officers Association of America," said Elizabeth "Biz" Steinberg, CEO of CAPSLO.
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