The House Committee on Financial Services passed several bills on November 13, including H.R. 2398, which would allow chronically homeless veterans who have received an “other than honorable” (OTH) discharge to participate in the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced the bill, which previously passed out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which also has jurisdiction over the proposal. Senators John Tester (D-MT), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced identical legislation, “Veteran Housing Opportunities and Unemployment Support Extension Act of 2019” (S. 2061) in July.
The HUD-VASH program combines a HUD Housing Choice Voucher with VA Medical Center case-management services in order to provide specialized solutions for veterans experiencing homelessness. For veterans to qualify for this voucher, they need to be eligible for VA medical benefits, which automatically excludes many veterans with Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges. OTH discharges are not punitive and should not be confused with a dishonorable discharge. If passed, H.R. 2398 could provide permanent supportive-housing assistance for an additional 1,000 chronically homeless veterans.
More about the bill is at: https://tinyurl.com/t5lnj9c
Watch the markup here: https://tinyurl.com/ydlfx46q
More about the HUD-VASH program is on page 4-21 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.