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Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Representing the 3rd District of Ohio

Beatty Introduces Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act

Sep 21, 2016
Press Release

Beatty Introduces Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act

Legislation would improve the availability of legal services for homeless veterans and those at-risk of homelessness

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) recently introduced the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act, H.R. 6046, legislation to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to partner with public and private entities to increase legal services for homeless and at-risk of homelessness veterans. Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) and Congressman Pat Tiberi (OH-12) are the lead cosponsors of H.R. 6046.

Under current law, the VA is only authorized to fund legal services for veterans through the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program and the Grant Per Diem (GDP) program. Yet, according to the latest Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups Survey, commonly referred to as Project CHALENG Survey, legal assistance continues to be among the most pressing needs for our nation’s veterans. In fact, the 2015 CHALENG Survey found that legal assistance accounted for four out of the top ten unmet needs for male and women veterans.
                                                                                         
“Clearly, we can and must do more to help our nation’s veterans,” Beatty said. “One way we can do so immediately is by expanding access to free, high-quality legal services to assist them—whether that be assisting in restoring their driver’s license, preventing eviction or the loss of their home, or resolving child support issues, to name a few.” Beatty continued, “This bill reaffirms our promise to better serve those who answered the call to serve our nation.”

“It is devastating to see so many of our veterans fall into homelessness after bravely serving our country,” Stivers said. “We have an obligation to help those who have made tremendous sacrifices for our freedoms. This bill is an important step in giving the homeless veterans in our community more resources and opportunities to move out of homelessness.”

“More can be done to ensure veterans in Central Ohio and across the nation find a job, a place to live and are able to successfully transition to civilian life. Unfortunately, this transition can be extremely difficult, and one of the reasons is lack of legal assistance,” Tiberi said. “In fact, homeless veterans have described obtaining legal help as one of their most urgent needs for years. Our bipartisan bill aims to increase access to legal services for veterans so that they can more easily receive the help they need and have earned by authorizing the VA to form partnerships with the organizations that provide them.” Tiberi added, “I thank Representatives Beatty and Stivers for their work and for joining me on this effort.”

In addition to Stivers and Tiberi, the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act has the support of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Ohio Legal Aid Society.

ABA President Linda A Klein lauded the introduction of H.R.6046 by saying, “Homeless veterans face barriers to housing, employment and services that the federal government cannot remove, but a lawyer can. Allowing increased private-public partnerships with the VA to improve these veterans’ access to legal help would take a desperately needed step toward ending the scourge of veteran homelessness in America.”

Ohio Legal Aid Society President Angela Lloyd also applauded the introduction of the bill, as well as Beatty, Stivers and Tiberi, issuing a statement that read, “The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation commends Congresswoman Beatty, Congressman Stivers, and Congressman Tiberi for their bipartisan leadership on this important bill that will provide increased legal services for our veterans. Legal assistance continues to be one of the most pressing needs of our veterans and is often critical to ensuring that our veterans obtain safe housing, access benefits they have earned, and fight consumer fraud.”

Beatty’s bill, H.R. 6046, has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and is awaiting further consideration.   

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