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Jan 14, 2020

Bipartisan Tester, Young, Murphy Bill to Curb Veteran Homelessness Clears Key Hurdle

Senators’ Veteran House Act expands eligibility for HUD-VASH program to veterans with Other-Than-Honorable discharges

A bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to curb veteran homelessness is one step closer to becoming law after passing the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday 362-31.

Studies show that veterans with Other-Than-Honorable (OTH) discharges are significantly more likely to experience homelessness than other veterans; even though only about five percent of separating service members receive an OTH discharge, they make up a quarter of the total homeless veteran population. Under current law, veterans with OTH discharges are unable to access VA case management services and are therefore denied housing vouchers under the Department of Housing and Urban Development - VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. The Senators’ Veteran Housing Opportunities and Unemployment Support Extension (HOUSE) Act would allow veterans with OTH discharges to participate in this important program, connecting chronically homeless veterans with the resources they need to find employment and housing.

"Other-Than-Honorable veterans face a much greater risk of mental health disorders, homelessness, and suicide,” said Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tester. “Our bill is a result of a bipartisan effort to support these veterans, helping them get back on their feet by securing good paying jobs and a place to call home. This is a step in the right direction for ending veteran homelessness in Montana and across the country, and I will continue to work to push it over the finish line in Congress."

“As a Marine, I’m especially proud that this legislation will help ensure that many more chronically homeless veterans receive the housing support they deserve,” said Young. “I will continue to work to solve the housing affordability crisis for all Hoosiers.”

“The servicemen and women who put their lives on the line for our safety should not have to worry about becoming homeless,” said Murphy. “Far too many veterans in this country are chronically homeless or unable to access the resources they need. That’s shameful. I want to applaud the House of Representatives for passing this important piece of legislation, and I’ll continue to work with Senators Tester and Young to make sure this bill passes the Senate and becomes law.”

The Veteran HOUSE Act is supported by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Alliance to End Homelessness, The American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, and the National Housing Law Project.

Tester has been a leading voice in Congress to support OTH veterans through housing and mental health assistance. In May, Tester and Murphy spearheaded a letter to Secretary Robert Wilkie, urging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to properly train VA personnel and conduct outreach to veterans under the Honor Our Commitment Act, a bipartisan bill which provides mental and behavioral healthcare to certain veterans with OTH discharges. He also pushed for an expansion of the HUD-VASH program during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in November, in an effort to address the nation’s growing affordable housing crisis.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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