On July 29, 2015, NCHV Executive Director Baylee Crone testified at the Veteran’s Affairs committee of the United States Senate in front of a packed room. She was joined by a panel of other experts including homeless veteran service providers, a Continuum of Care (CoC) representative, and a representative from the American Legion. Some of you may have seen our live-tweeting of the hearing, or watched it live on the Senate website.
On the first panel for the hearing were representatives from the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These experts discussed how the nation’s response to veteran homelessness has housed more than 200,000 formerly homeless veterans over the past six years. Highlights included the successes of cities like New Orleans and Houston, which have both ended veteran homelessness. Jennifer Ho of HUD applauded these two cities as places where “any veteran who needs help can get it.”
Dozens of other cities, towns, and even states are on track to make similar announcements of functionally ending veteran homelessness in the coming months! The programs and strategies that have come from Congress, Federal agencies, state officials, and community leaders and service providers all working together are yielding previously unheard of results.
NCHV and other panelists received numerous questions about the exact problem involved with serving homeless and at-risk veterans with “Other Than Honorable” discharges, in regard to a bill which protects the eligibility of homeless veterans for programs designed to serve them. Senator Patty Murray (WA), who introduced the bill to solve this problem permanently, started off the questions by grilling the Federal panel on the issue. Several other Senators later asked NCHV about the specifics of the issue, and the ways to fix it permanently. NCHV was happy to point them to Senator Murray’s bill, which we fully support.
Other issues were also brought up by panelists and the Senators, including jail diversion programs, prescription drug abuse, the forthcoming military drawdown, and things that were working or not working in their own states. It was an encouraging display of expertise and compassion at the highest levels, coming together to do better work on behalf of homeless veterans.
As we said at the end of the live-tweeting: “Great questions and comments today. Let’s turn it into action!” Stay tuned to for the latest updates on all policy and legislative issues.