Paralyzed Veterans of America is supporting new legislation that would provide grants to nonprofits to help low-income or disabled veterans make housing adaptations and repairs to their homes.
The Housing Assistance for Veterans, or HAVEN, Act (H.R. 385), introduced in January by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, would establish a pilot program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide grants to nonprofit organizations to provide home modifications to disabled veterans, regardless of whether their disability is service-connected or not.
The grants would enable these nonprofits to leverage their ability to assist veterans with home modifications such as remodeling bathrooms to increase accessibility, fix roofs or make other repairs and adaptations, said Susan Prokop, associate advocacy director at Paralyzed Veterans of America.
While the VA already offers some assistance to veterans who have disabilities that are connected to their military service and who have specific physical limitations, many veterans who need housing adaptations are not deemed eligible for those benefits. Those benefits also do not extend to low-income veterans who also need assistance with home repairs.
The legislation also would require collaboration between HUD and the Veterans Administration to ensure the pilot is meeting the needs of the targeted veterans. Collaboration outside the boundaries of the VA is essential, Prokop said, particularly since most veterans work with other agencies focused on housing or Social Security.
Prokop notes, “Advocates are always trying to find ways to draw VA into connection to other federal programs and other federal agencies because we realize that the veteran with a disability is not just living in the VA world.”
The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities as well as a coalition of thirteen other advocacy groups including Paralyzed Veterans of America in March sent a letter to Rep. Green voicing their support for the HAVEN Act.
“Veterans with disabilities must have access to affordable, accessible housing in order to be independent members of their communities,” the letter states.
The HAVEN Act currently sits in the House Financial Services Committee. Paralyzed Veterans is encouraging its members and the public to call their representatives and senators urging support for the legislation.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's advocacy on behalf of all people with disabilities
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.