Congress passes bill to assist homeless veterans during pandemic

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WASHINGTON — H.R. 7105, also known as the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020, has passed the House and Senate and will travel to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

“This pandemic has been devastating for all Americans, including those who have served and sacrificed for our country,” said Rep. Levin. “I have seen veterans in my district lining up for food, heard from homeless and housing insecure veterans who couldn’t access desperately-needed resources, and met with veterans who struggled to start new careers despite services that should’ve been there for them. That’s unacceptable, and we must do more to help get them back on their feet. I am proud to lead H.R. 7105 to provide much-needed relief for veterans during this pandemic, and strengthen their benefits in the years beyond. I am deeply grateful for the partnership of Chairman Mark Takano and all of my colleagues who contributed to this legislation.”

First introduced by House Representative Mike Levin (D-Calif.) in June 2020, H.R. 7105 aims to address the administration of Department of Veterans Affairs programs and benefits for homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic.

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photo courtesy: Mike Levin, via Twitter

The Bill authorizes the VA to:

  • reallocate specified grant funds to provide homeless veterans and veterans in the VA Supporting Housing program with transportation, assistance required for safety/survival, and communication equipment/services;
  • collaborate with organizations to manage the use of VA land for homeless veterans for living and sleeping;
  • provide a maximum rate for certain per diem payments that is three times the rate authorized for state homes for domiciliary care;
  • provide amounts for additional transitional housing beds for homeless veterans;
  • waive certain inspection and safety code requirements to allow grant recipients and housing facilities to make adjustments (i.e. facilitating social distancing/isolation needs).

The bill also requires the VA to ensure that veterans participating in or receiving services under a program for homeless veterans have access to telehealth services.

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