Tester announces more housing assistance for homeless veterans

Senate approves additional housing vouchers for veterans

(U.S. SENATE) – With winter approaching, Senator Jon Tester today announced that more help is on the way for homeless veterans in Montana and across the nation.

The Senate late Thursday voted to add 11,000 new housing vouchers to the popular Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program. The initiative works with local housing and support groups to provide eligible homeless veterans with services that aid recovery from physical and mental health conditions resulting from homelessness.

Tester said that the increase, along with the recent passage of his VOW to Hire Heroes Act, demonstrates that supporting veterans is and should be a bipartisan issue.

“Ensuring that all veterans have a place to call home is part of our responsibility as Americans,” Tester said. “The Senate followed up on that commitment with bipartisan support after unanimously passing our landmark veterans’ jobs bill just last week. I hope this momentum continues in the future—working together to better serve this nation’s veterans.”

To be eligible for a housing voucher, veterans must qualify for VA Health Care, they must be homeless and must participate in case management services in order to receive permanent independent community housing.

Back in July, Tester brought Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to Montana to hear directly how housing vouchers make a difference in veterans’ lives. Within weeks of Shinseki’s visit, the VA announced two new $100,000 voucher grants for Billings and Kalispell.

The Senate’s legislation on Thursday, part of a combined appropriations bill, brings the initiative’s budget to $75 million – an increase of 50%. In February, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to eliminate the housing initiative, but the proposal was rejected by the Senate. 

Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, recently participated in a ribbon-cutting event at the Willis Cruse Living Facility in Helena, which houses and rehabilitates homeless veterans in exchange for community service. Tester is a cosponsor of the Helping Our Homeless Veterans Act that would increase partnerships between the VA and community providers in fighting veteran homelessness.