A key Democrat is pushing for an immediate extension
of programs for homeless veterans that will expire on Sept. 30 after a new congressional report shows big gaps in government
At the end of the month, two grant programs aimed at
homeless veterans — one that provides per diem to shelters and the second that provides technical assistance to providers
— will expire. Rep. Michael H. Michaud, D-Maine, is sponsoring a bill, the Homeless Veterans Assistance Act of 2006,
that would reauthorize the programs. The bill, HR 5960, was introduced July 28, just before Congress left town on the month-long
Michaud is ranking Democrat on the House Veterans’
Affairs subcommittee on health but his bill was referred to the veterans’ subcommittee on economic opportunity.
A new report from the Government Accountability office
shows why he is concerned. The report says there is a shortage of 10,000 safe-shelter beds for homeless veterans.
“Each night nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless,”
he said. “They live on the streets, in alleys, in cars, in barns and under bridges.
“The situation will get worse because recent combat
veterans are already homeless,” Michaud said. “Just last year, VA served nearly 600 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan
in its health care for homeless veterans programs.”
“If we fail to reauthorize these programs, we will
be leaving homeless veterans behind,” he said, noting many veterans “are just one paycheck away from being homeless.”