Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), and Steve Stivers (R-OH) recently introduced H.R. 1993, the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act, legislation to allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to partner with public and private entities to increase legal services for homeless and at-risk of homelessness veterans.
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.
The 2015 CHALENG Survey found that legal assistance accounted for four out of the top ten unmet needs for men and women veterans.
“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.”
“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. 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.”
The Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act has the support of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation.
The Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and is awaiting further consideration.