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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 17, 2018 02:23 PM
From: Senator John P. Blake
To: All Senate members
Subject: Homeless Veterans Initiative
In the near future, I will be reintroducing Senate Bill 467 of the 2017-18 session to establish the Veterans’ Housing Assistance Program to provide housing assistance grants to homeless or imminently homeless veterans. This program can supplement and be used in conjunction with the federal housing program known as the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which awards grants to local housing authorities to house homeless veterans.

Under the legislation, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) would establish the program in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). The DMVA would implement a program to identify homeless veterans and veterans at imminent risk of becoming homeless. PHFA would establish a housing ombudsman to advocate for homeless veterans in the housing market, including lease negotiations and credit counseling issues.

The DMVA may require a veteran to engage in activities such as counseling, health education, job training, or other self help programs as a condition of participation.

Financial assistance in the form of a rental voucher will be provided to the veteran. The amount of the voucher will be for a maximum of $1,000 per month for 12 months to cover housing costs. A veteran will be able to file for an extension.

With a $12,500,000 annual appropriation and $500,000 set aside for administrative costs, this program could help as many as 1,000 homeless or imminently homeless veterans annually.

Prior co-sponsors included Senators Farnese, Yaw, Scavello, Brewster, Yudichak, Tartaglione, Williams, Hughes, Rafferty, Costa, Sabatina, Schwank, Boscola, McGarrigle, Ward and Fontana.

Introduced as SB561