Beatty Bill to Help Homeless Veterans Becomes Law
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, H.R. 7105, was recently signed into law. The bipartisan-backed piece of legislation includes a provision that mirrors U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty’s (OH-03) bill, the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act, H.R. 716, to allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to partner with public and private entities to increase access to legal services for homeless veterans and those at-risk of homelessness. This is the sixth bill authored by Beatty to be signed into law.
“Our nation made a lifelong commitment to our veterans, and clearly we can and must do more,” Beatty said. “Providing expanded access to free, high-quality legal services—to prevent eviction or the loss of their home, restore their driver’s license, or resolve child support issues, to name a few examples—is one way we can do so immediately.” Beatty continued, “This bill reaffirms the promise to serve those who answered the call to serve in the Armed Forces.”
“Thank you, Congresswoman Beatty, for your work to develop and pass this critically important bill. Your support for and advocacy of Veterans mitigates critical gaps for service members in need. Your unwavering commitment to Veterans ensures our nation provides resources to assist those who selflessly served our country,” National Veterans Memorial and Museum President and CEO Lt. General Michael Ferriter added.
“We owe a tremendous debt to the brave men and women who risked it all for our country. This law change is critical because it means the VA will now be able to directly fund civil legal services that help our homeless and at-risk veterans resolve the myriad of civil legal challenges that stand in their way of living stable, healthy, and financially secure civilian lives,” Ohio Access to Justice Foundation Executive Director Angela M. Lloyd noted.
Prior to H.R. 7105 becoming law, the VA was only authorized to fund legal services through the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program and the Grant Per Diem (GDP) program. Yet, a 2018 Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups Survey (Project CHALENG Survey) showed that legal assistance accounted for four of the top ten unmet needs for both male and female veterans, highlighting the drastic need to expand access to services.