Tester, Daines lead effort to combat Native American veteran homelessness

Montana senators sponsor bill to permanently reauthorize successful tribal housing initiative

(Montana) – To honor the contributions Native American veterans have made to this nation, Vice Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee Jon Tester and Senator Steve Daines have introduced bipartisan legislation to combat veteran homelessness in Indian Country.

The Senators’ bipartisan bill will make HUD-VASH funds, which provide rental assistance to homeless or at-risk homeless veterans, permanently available to Native American tribes and tribal housing authorities.

“Native Americans serve in the military at the highest rate per capita of any group in the United States,” Tester said. “This year the tribal HUD-VASH initiative helped establish affordable housing for veterans in Indian Country and it is critical that these resources remain available for the Native American veterans who bravely served our nation.”

“Several thousand Montana tribal members are veterans and serve as true examples of bravery, service and patriotism. Unfortunately, far too many are without a home to call their own. This bill will help ensure that we continue to honor these veterans’ service by providing the support they need during difficult times,” Daines said.

Since 2008 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has administered the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) initiative to support homeless veterans. But prior to 2015 tribes and tribal housing authorities had been unable to receive HUD-VASH funds.

Last year Tester and Daines sponsored legislation that forced HUD-VASH to set aside up to five percent of HUD funds for Native American tribes. That authorization is set to expire at the end of the year. This bill permanently reauthorizes that set aside fund for Native American tribes and tribal housing authorities.

The HUD-VASH initiative provides housing vouchers to tribes and tribal housing authorities to construct affordable housing, provide rental assistance, and assist homeless veterans with services that aid recovery from physical and mental health conditions resulting from homelessness.