Winter is fast approaching, meaning colder temperatures and dangerous conditions for far too many veterans facing homelessness in Ohio.
The progress we have made toward ending veteran homelessness has been a great, untold success story. Through a combination of increased federal investments and improved services, we have made real headway. Since 2010, homelessness among veterans has declined 33 percent.
And yet, too many veterans remain on the streets.
Veterans comprise about 12 percent of the national adult homeless population, and, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development nearly 50,000 veterans were homeless during a “point-in-time” survey conducted on a single night in January 2014. That is 50,000 too many.
It’s a disgrace that after serving our country with honor, thousands of veterans are left without a roof over their heads. It’s our responsibility to ensure that every veteran has a place to call home and the opportunity to succeed.
That’s why I joined my colleagues in introducing the Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015, which would make meaningful improvements to services for homeless veterans, and give more veterans access to permanent housing opportunities.
This bill would encourage landlords to rent to veterans, provide grants to community organizations providing care to formerly-homeless veterans, and improve and expand a current VA program that sells foreclosed homes to nonprofit organizations serving veterans. It would expand the definition of a “homeless veteran,” to include veterans or family members fleeing domestic abuse or other dangerous housing conditions.
And the bill would also hold the VA accountable, setting national performance targets and ensuring that grant recipients are using resources to give veterans a permanent place to live.
Even one veteran on the street means Congress isn’t doing enough to tackle this problem. We cannot rest until every man and woman who has served our nation has a place to call home.
On behalf of a grateful state, I thank all Ohio veterans and their families. It’s an honor serving those who serve us.
The writer is a U.S. senator from Ohio.