VETERANS: Murray, Johnson, Reed Introduce Bill to Provide Help for Growing Number of Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children

Jun 17 2009

As more women veterans and veterans with children struggle with readjustment and housing, Senator Murray introduces bill to support those who provide transitional housing, counseling and job training

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced first-of-its-kind legislation that focuses specifically on helping homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.  Murray’s bill, which is co-sponsored by Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Jack Reed (D-RI), will extend federal grant programs to help local organizations provide services including transitional housing,  job training, counseling, and child care to the children of homeless veterans. Statistics show that the numbers of homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children are on the rise.

“This bill will help our community providers care for a unique and growing group of homeless veterans,” said Senator Murray. “Women veterans and veterans with children often have different needs and require specialized services. The grants included in this bill will go to help provide transitional housing as well as services like parenting classes, domestic violence prevention, job training, and child care. It’s our duty to give every veteran the resources they need to come in off the streets. This bill will help provide an open door to women and families that have made tremendous sacrifices and deserve safe and stable homes.”

“I am troubled by the continued high levels of homelessness among our veteran population and believe we must do more to help those that served their nation so honorably.  I am pleased that this legislation addresses the needs of women and children, groups that are uniquely affected by homelessness.  This legislation lays the framework to help the women who served our country, and their children, achieve a better quality of life,” said Senator Johnson.

“As more women serve in the Armed Forces, the military has adapted to meet their needs.  We also need to adapt services for our veterans to reflect this shift and provide more gender-specific resources, such as housing and counseling to prevent female veterans from becoming homeless,” said Reed, a former Army Ranger.  “Senator Murray has crafted a strong bill that will encourage more homeless shelters and supportive housing agencies to develop programs specifically for women veterans and to meet the needs of veterans with children.”

Veterans officials estimate that the demand for transitional housing and services for women veterans and veterans with children will grow due to troops returning home and the economic recession. Currently, in many parts of Washington state transitional housing units for families are filled as quickly as they become available.

Senator Murray’s bill would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Grant Per Diem Program to make Special Needs Grants to facilities at the VA and elsewhere to provide services and care for male veterans that are homeless with their children and to the children of all homeless veterans. Under current law, those groups are not covered by the Grant and Per Diem program’s Special Needs Grants.

Her bill would also extend the Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program (HVRP) to provide workforce training, job counseling, child care services and placement services including literacy and skills training to homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.  

Senator Murray’s bill would authorize $50,000,000 in funding over the next five years.

Read a detailed summary of Senator Murray’s bill.