Senators Shaheen, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Homeless Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic

June 08, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues in introducing legislation to give the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) greater flexibility in caring for and meeting the needs of homeless veterans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was led by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and companion legislation was also introduced in the House by Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). 

“The COVID-19 crisis has been especially challenging to homeless veterans, who are already amongst the most vulnerable members of our society,” Senator Shaheen said. “By providing greater flexibility to the VA, this bill will help expand homeless veterans’ access to critical housing and medical resources, as well as other vital services they need to stay healthy and safe during this public health emergency. I urge the Senate to include this bill in upcoming relief legislation and will continue to work to combat veteran homelessness.”

“This bipartisan bill will provide critical support to help protect the health and safety of homeless veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Senator Hassan said. “These veterans have sacrificed a great deal in order to keep our country safe, and we must provide them additional support during this challenging time. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense legislation so that we can get homeless veterans the resources that they desperately need and deserve.” 

Among other provisions, the bipartisan Homeless Veterans Coronavirus Response Act would loosen certain regulations and enable the VA to use existing resources to offer homeless veterans the additional assistance that they may need, including transportation, communication devices and services, and basic amenities, like clothing, blankets and hygiene items. The law would also allow the VA to work with partner organizations to help it set up shelters on VA properties. Finally, the bill ensures homeless veterans have access to the VA’s telehealth services.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan are focused on protecting the health and safety of the homeless population, including homeless veterans, during this public health emergency. In April, the Senators joined the rest of the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in announcing that New Hampshire received $11.7 million in additional funding to assist the state’s homeless population and other vulnerable populations, and also announced over $3.5 million in May to help support affordable housing for Granite Staters during the pandemic. Additionally, Senators Shaheen and Hassan recently called for additional funding in the next COVID-19 relief package to support those who are experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – homelessness.