U.S. Senate approves bill to aid disabled veterans
The U.S. Senate recently gave unanimous approval to a bipartisan amendment authored by U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Mike Johanns to help upgrade housing for veterans.
The Housing Assistance for Veterans Act authorizes a five-year $20 million pilot program allowing nonprofit organizations to apply for grants provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grants will help make home repairs and improvements for low-income disabled veterans.
The work will include simple repairs – such as repairing roofs, floors and walls, electrical wiring, plumbing, replacing damaged doors and windows, installing wheelchair ramps and widening passageways – help keep veterans healthy and out of more costly health-care facilities.
In order to extend the reach of this federal funding, grant recipients would be expected to either match federal funding or make in-kind contributions, such as through encouraging volunteers to help make repairs or engaging businesses to donate needed supplies.
Approximately 6 million of United States’ 22 million veterans are disabled. About 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness. In Rhode Island, there are more than 19,000 veterans with disabilities.
While the Department of Veterans Affairs has programs to help veterans improve their homes, the VA does not extend assistance to all veterans with disabilities.