November 06, 2009

Senators Call for Increased Funding to Fight Veteran Homelessness

Udall, Bingaman & Bond Amendment Would Boost Funding by $6 Million

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Kit Bond (R-MO) today introduced an amendment that would increase funding to provide transitional housing for homeless veterans, calling it our nation's sacred responsibility to support the men and women who answered America's call to duty.

The amendment would add $6 million to the $144 million already allocated for the Homeless Grant and Per Diem Program through the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. This additional funding would bring the program to its full authorization level of $150 million. The appropriations bill is currently being debated by the full Senate.

"Right now, more than 130,000 of our nation's 24 million military veterans are homeless on any given day. This is a national tragedy - and our veterans deserve better from the nation they served," Udall said. "The legislation would increase funding for homeless shelters so that more veterans can get off the streets and into safe environments as they work to rebuild their lives."

"As a country, we must do everything we can to honor the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for us. This additional funding will help ensure more homeless veterans have a place to stay," Bingaman said. 

"Our nation's veterans are owed more than a blanket and a hot meal," Bond said. "This additional funding will continue the permanent supportive housing strategy that has been proven successful in ending the tragedy of homelessness among so many of our veterans."

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 week, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki unveiled a comprehensive plan for achieving that goal.