Yesterday, Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and Mike Levin, D-Calif., in the House and Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Ark., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., in the Senate, introduced the Homeless Veteran Coronavirus Response Act. (H.R. 7105 & S.3898) The bill allows VA to use existing funds for a wider range of services; authorizes the Department to collaborate with outside organizations to facilitate shelters on its properties; loosens restrictions on Grant and Per Diem (GPD) payments; and requires VA to ensure veterans participating in VA homeless programs have access to VA telehealth services. The Homeless Veteran Coronavirus Response Act also;
Allows VA to use existing homelessness funds to provide transportation, food, shelter, telecommunications equipment and services, clothing, blankets, hygiene items, and other items for homeless veterans during the COVID-19 emergency;
Authorizes VA to collaborate with outside organizations to manage the use of its property, buildings, or other facilities as temporary shelter locations during the COVID-19 emergency;
Establishes the maximum Grant and Per Diem (GPD) per diem rate during the COVID-19 emergency to 300 percent of the rate authorized for state homes for domiciliary care; (The CARES Act authorized VA to waive limits on per diem rates during the COVID-19 emergency.)
Authorizes GPD providers to use per diem payments during the COVID-19 emergency to provide assistance such as food, shelter, clothing, blankets, and hygiene items to homeless veterans, as well as formerly homeless veterans residing in a facility operated by a GPD recipient;
Authorizes VA to provide GPD payments for additional transitional housing beds without notice or competition during the COVID-19 emergency;
Authorizes VA to waive GPD or Compensated Work Therapy Transitional Residence (CWT-TR) inspection and life safety code requirements during the COVID-19 emergency if the facility meets applicable local safety requirements to allow grantees to quickly identify temporary alternate sites, facilitate social distancing or isolation, or facilitate activation of continuation of a program;
Requires VA to ensure veterans participating in VA homeless programs have access to VA telehealth services for which they are eligible during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including by ensuring such capabilities are available to veterans, case managers, and community providers participating in VA homeless programs.
Read the full text of H.R.7105 here. Read the full text of S.3898 here.