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Congressmen Introduce Bill to Alleviate Veteran Homelessness

money-and-gavel [1]According to a recent press release [2], Rep. Steve Israel [3](D-New York) and Rep. Tim Murphy [4](R-Pennsylvania) have introduced bipartisan legislation to help improve efforts to end homelessness among our nation’s veterans.

The Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund Act of 2015 [5] or H.R. 2591 [5], creates the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund, according to the release. If this legislation is passed, taxpayers will have a chance to help keep nearly 50,000 veterans off the streets by making an optional contribution to the fund on their federal income tax return form.

“It is simply unacceptable that nearly 50,000 of our nation’s veterans, who have sacrificed so much to defend our country, are forced to sleep on the streets at night,” Rep. Israel said. This bipartisan legislation will allow taxpayers to lend a helping hand to our veterans most in need by simply checking off a voluntary box on their tax forms. This bill is a common-sense step to help our American heroes.”

HUD [6] estimated in a 2014 report [7] that 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night in the United States, including more than 2,500 veterans in New York, the congressmen said. Veteran homelessness has dropped by 10 percent since 2013. Of homeless adults, 11 percent are veterans, but in New York, which has the fourth largest number of veterans in the country, only 5 percent of homeless adults are veterans.

Taxpayers’ donations to the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund would be available to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in consultation with HUD, the congressmen said. The money collected will be used to provide services to homeless veterans, including developing and implementing new and innovative strategies to end veteran homelessness.

The congressmen also noted that legislation would require the President’s annual budget submission to Congress include proposed uses of funds from the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund and require Congress to be notified 60 days in advance of any expenditure of such funds.  This will be done to ensure transparency and accountability of how taxpayer dollars are spent.

“Homelessness among our nation’s heroes continues to remain a paramount concern despite promises from the VA to end veteran homelessness this year,” Rep. Murphy said. “The brave men and women who served this country should not be cast aside, ill-fed, ill-clothed and without the care and mental health treatment they need. This important legislation enables every American to do their part to give back to those who answered our nation’s call by checking the box and voluntarily contributing to a homeless veterans assistance fund.”

The Five Star Institute [8] President and CEO Ed Delgado announced in March at the Five Star Government Forum [9] in Washington, D.C., that the Institute would be partnering with the nation's leading online real estate marketplace, Irvine, California-based Auction.com [10], and national nonprofit Operation Homefront [11]in support of a home donation program that provides mortgage-free homes to veterans.

The home donation program will be featured at the 2015 Five Star Conference and Expo [12], which will take place September 16 to 18 in Dallas, Texas. Over the last four years, Five Star has partnered with various non-profit organizations to provide approximately $4 million worth of homes to service members. Five Star presented six wounded veterans with mortgage-free homes at last year's conference.

“The Five Star Institute remains committed to promoting the presentation of mortgage-free homes to veterans through our continuous support of donation programs such as this one,” Delgado said. “This home presentation to veterans program is part of our ongoing mission to raise awareness of the needs of our veterans to obtain housing. We are humbled by the immense level of dedication shown by Auction.com and Operation Homefront in helping us fulfill this mission.”

Editor’s Note: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of the MReport and theMReport.com.