U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have introduced the “Homeless Veterans Welcome Home Act of 2015” that would establish a program to provide furniture, household items, and other assistance to help homeless veterans as they transition into permanent housing, the Sierra Sun Times said.
“When many homeless veterans finally obtain permanent housing, they arrive with few or no possessions, ” Senator Boxer said, according to the report. “This grant program will assist veterans by providing them with basic household items – such as a bed or utensils– to help them successfully make the transition to civilian life.”
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), approximately 40, 000 homeless veteran families receive permanent housing through VA housing assistance programs each year. However, most veterans who receive housing do not have the means to pay for critical household items and typically move into empty apartments. These veterans often have no means to cook or enjoy the basic comforts of a furnished home, the Times said.
In 2012, the non-profit California Department of AMVETS partnered with the West Los Angeles VA to create an innovative “Welcome Home” program that provides homeless veterans transitioning into permanent housing with furniture, appliances, and other necessary household items. The program has since expanded to serve Long Beach, San Diego, Orange County and Fresno communities and has provided household items to over 1, 450 formerly homeless veterans, the report said.
The Homeless Veterans Welcome Home Act of 2015 is modeled on this successful public-private partnership, and will help fill an important gap in assistance to homeless veterans by addressing their immediate move-in needs, the Times said.
The Boxer-Feinstein bill would establish a 3-year pilot program to award grants to eligible organizations to facilitate the delivery of furniture, household items and other assistance to homeless veterans; require the VA to prioritize communities with the greatest need of homeless services and fair geographic distribution when awarding grants; cap the maximum amount awarded per grant at $500, 000 and the maximum amount of assistance provided to an eligible veteran at $2, 500; and authorize $5 million for 3 years to be appropriated for the program, the report said.