November 13, 2019
Yesterday, the House Financial Services Committee passed Rep. Scott Peters’ (CA-52) bill to support homeless veterans. The Veteran HOUSE Act makes veterans discharged under conditions other-than-honorable, but not dishonorable, eligible for HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers. The bill also provides access to wraparound services proven to end chronic homelessness. Research demonstrates that veterans with other-than-honorable discharges may have substantial mental health care needs, and may be more likely to experience homelessness. The VA estimates 1,500 homeless veterans could be newly eligible for the HUD-VASH program if this bill becomes law.
Servicemembers can receive an other-than-honorable discharge for a variety of reasons. It is an administrative discharge status issued for violating military good order, failing a drug test, or similar infractions. It is not a dishonorable discharge, which is a punitive discharge for bad conduct. More than half a million veterans have been discharged with other-than-honorable status, according to VA estimates. While only 5 percent of veterans separating from the military receive other-than-honorable discharges, they are 25 percent of the total population of veterans experiencing homelessness.
“Over 1,000 veterans are experiencing homelessness in San Diego. This bill expands eligibility so that more chronically homeless veterans can access the housing and mental health services they need. The Veteran HOUSE Act builds on the evidence-based, cost-effective approach HUD-VASH uses to improve the lives of more veterans across the nation. I look forward to this bill coming to the House floor soon,” said Rep. Peters.
Rep. Peters introduced the Veteran HOUSE Act and the Homes for Our Heroes Act in May. The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed the bills in May as well. Earlier this week, he voted for other bills that support veterans.