November 17, 2009

Senate Approves Udall, Bingaman & Bond Amendment to Fight Veteran Homelessness

Proposal Boosts Funding for Transitional Housing by $6 Million

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Kit Bond (R-MO) today reported that the U.S. Senate has approved an amendment they introduced that would increase funding to provide transitional housing for homeless veterans.

The amendment adds $6 million to the $144 million already allocated for the Homeless Grant and Per Diem Program through the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MILCON-VA) appropriations bill. This additional funding brings the program to its full authorization level of $150 million. The Senate must now give final signoff of the MILCON-VA bill, which is expected this week.

“The Senate’s approval of this amendment is the critical next step in our efforts to get more veterans off the streets and into safe environments as they work to rebuild their lives,” Udall said. “Right now, more than 130,000 veterans are homeless on any given day. This is a national tragedy – and our veterans deserve better from the nation they served.”

“Homelessness is a serious problem, especially when it affects the men and women who have honorably served our country. The provision approved as part of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill will add much-needed funding to help provide veterans with transitional shelter,” Bingaman said.

“Too often we rally around our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines while they are fighting overseas, only to fall short in providing support when they return home. The Senate’s approval of this amendment is an important step in meeting our commitment to veterans and ending the tragedy of homelessness among so many of these heroes,” Bond said.

In New Mexico, six organizations in Albuquerque, Gallup, Las Cruces and Las Vegas have received more than $1.1 million through this grant program. The money is used to construct, renovate or acquire buildings to be used as service centers or transitional housing for homeless veterans.

President Barack Obama has called for eliminating veterans’ homelessness in five years. Earlier this month, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki unveiled a comprehensive plan for achieving that goal.