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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Veterans Issues: GAO REPORT FINDS VA SHORT OF RESOURCES TO ADDRESS HOMELESS VETERANS' NEEDS



Rep. Michaud Urges Administration to Provide Necessary Funding and Make Commitment to End Homelessness Among Veterans

News Release
House Committee on Veterans' Affairs-Democratic Office
Lane Evans
Ranking Democratic Member
September 12, 2006

Washington, D.C.---"With veterans living on the streets at night, it is unacceptable to have a shortfall of nearly 10,000 beds for homeless veterans," said Rep. Michael H. Michaud, Ranking Democratic Member of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health in reaction to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued late Tuesday.

"The GAO report clearly indicates that gaps on service exist and that we are leaving behind veterans who are sleeping on the streets, under bridges, in alleys and in cars. Homelessness is curable. We must---and can---take steps to prevent and end homelessness among veterans," said Michaud.

One third of the nation's adult homeless population are veterans, half suffer from mental health disorders and many have substance abuse problems. The Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diam program (GPD), which provides transitional housing to veterans.

The GAO report specifically found that while VA has attempted to improve its services and increase the capacity of the GPD program, an additional 9,600 transitional beds are needed to meet the current demand of homeless veterans in need of shelter. GAO states that VA plans to increase GPD beds by 2,200. The GAO report also indicated that resource and communications gaps have stood in the way of VA and provider efforts to help homeless veterans live independently. Misunderstandings in program policies have prevented homeless veterans from getting needed services.

The GAO also reported that VA served over 2,500 of the homeless veterans who had served in military operations in the Persian Gulf, Afghanastan, and Iraq.

Michaud has introduced H.R. 5960, the Homeless Veterans Assistance Act of 2006, legislation to fortify the nation's efforts to prevent and end homelessness among veterans. Michaud's legislation includes a pilot to prevent homelessness among returning troops.

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