Grimm Tries to Restore Homeless Vets Funding He Voted to Cut

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is knocking Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm this morning for circulating a letter asking his colleagues to support a program for homeless veterans.

All of which is well and good, Democrats say, save for one problem: Grimm voted to cut that very program in February.

Then, he joined all but three of his G.O.P. colleagues in the House to kill a budget item that would have provided $75 million for homeless veterans who have yet to receive housing vouchers. That cut was among hundreds that the Republican-led House instituted in order to slash $61 billion from FY2011.

At the time, Republicans said the program was too slow and that 11,000 of the vouchers remained unclaimed.

President Obama has called for more funding for homeless veterans, and today Grimm, in a “Dear Colleague” letter co-written with Al Green of Texas, agrees:

The President has requested $75 million in fiscal year 2012 HUD funding for 10,000 new VASH vouchers.  Given a recent HUD report identifying 136,334 veterans who spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program in 2009, the prioritization of this funding is critical.

HUD-VASH provides rental assistance for homeless veterans along with case management and clinical services in an effort to help them become self sufficient members of their community once again. Through community outreach efforts in our district, we have seen firsthand the benefits of the HUD-VASH voucher program.

“Representative Michael Grimm proudly voted to cut funding for homeless veterans and now he is hypocritically trying to mislead voters by claiming to support a Democratic effort to stand up for veterans,” said DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin. “This is just another example of Representative Grimm trying to hide his radical agenda from the voters.”

We have reached out to Grimm’s office for comment, and will update when we receive.

Full letter below:

SUPPORT THE HUD-VASH VOUCHER PROGRAM FOR HOMELESS VETERANS

From: The Honorable Al Green
Sent By: thao.nguyen@mail.house.gov
Date: 5/17/2011

HELP HOMELESS VETERANS: SUPPORT THE HUD-VASH VOUCHER PROGRAM FOR HOMELESS VETERANS

 

Deadline: COB TODAY

 

Dear Colleague:

 

Please join us in requesting the Appropriations Committee’s support for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD/VASH) voucher program – one of the most important tools we have in eliminating homelessness among veterans in our communities.  The President has requested $75 million in fiscal year 2012 HUD funding for 10,000 new VASH vouchers.  Given a recent HUD report identifying 136,334 veterans who spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program in 2009, the prioritization of this funding is critical.

 

HUD-VASH provides rental assistance for homeless veterans along with case management and clinical services in an effort to help them become self sufficient members of their community once again. Through community outreach efforts in our district, we have seen firsthand the benefits of the HUD-VASH voucher program.

 

There was robust debate during the FY 11 Continuing Resolution as to whether or not these vouchers were being effectively used and whether another round was needed.  The final bill provided $50 million for 7,690 vouchers (a reduction from $75 million in previous years) as the Committee learned that nearly all of the existing vouchers had been issued and that actual leasing up of units was occurring at a steady pace.  The most recent statistics from the VA show that 25,900 veterans have already been housed through the HUD-VASH in the past three years.

 

Please join us in asking the Appropriations Committee to help homeless veterans in the FY12 Transportation-HUD Appropriations bill. Contact Susie Saavedra at Susie.saavedra@mail.house.gov in Congressman Al Green’s office or Richard Hoffmann at Richard.hoffmann@mail.house.gov in Congressman Michael Grimm’s office to be added to the letter.  The sign on deadline is COB TODAY.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

/s                                                                                  /s

Al Green                                                                     Michael Grimm

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

_________________________________________________________________________

May  XX, 2011

 

Hon. Tom Latham

Chairman

Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development & Related Agencies

House Appropriations Committee

Washington, DC 20515

 

Hon. John Olver

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development & Related Agencies

House Appropriations Committee

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Latham and Ranking Member Olver:

We are writing to request the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee accept the President’s request and provide $75 million in its Fiscal Year 2012 (FY 12) bill for the HUD-VASH program to help end homelessness for 10,000 of our nation’s veterans.  This program is successful because it successful combines rental assistance, in the form of a voucher from HUD, with case management and supportive services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Together, this program helps homeless veterans become self sufficient members of their community once again.

HUD-VASH is truly a life-saving program.  Nationwide, in 2009, an estimated 136,334 people who self-identified as veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. Perhaps even more concerning is that veterans are significantly overrepresented among the homeless population.  Only 8 percent of the U.S. population has veteran status, but a recent HUD report determined that 16 percent of adults experiencing homelessness identified as a veteran.  Quite simply, we must do better by those who served our country in the military.

There was robust debate during the FY 11 Continuing Resolution as to whether or not these vouchers were being effectively used and whether another round was needed.  We are grateful for the Subcommittee’s work to include $50 million for 7,690 vouchers in FY 11, but we note that this is a significant reduction from the $75 million provided in FY 08 through FY 10.  We also hope the Subcommittee will examine the most recent data from HUD and the VA that indicates nearly all of the 2008-10 vouchers have been issued with lease-up rates steadily increasing around the country.  In his remarks defending the FY 12 HUD Budget, Secretary Donovan noted that the Department did not request VASH vouchers in FY 11 but had done so in FY 12 because of the improvement in the program.  The bottom line is that there is great need for the assistance that HUD-VASH provides, and the data shows that the vouchers are being well-utilized.

Through community outreach in our districts we have seen firsthand the benefits of the HUD-VASH voucher program.  Veterans who were once on the streets now have a place to live, and a stable environment from which to get help addressing the factors that led to their homelessness.  We owe it to our veterans to continue supporting this invaluable program.

 

 

 

  Grimm Tries to Restore Homeless Vets Funding He Voted to Cut