Heinrich Leads Effort To Help Native American Veterans Find A Home In Indian Country

Sen. Martin Heinrich

U. S. SENATE News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 30, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) led a group of Senators seeking to improve a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that assists Native American veterans find a home in Indian Country and allow them to live near their families with access to culturally appropriate and traditional healing practices.In a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, the Senators requested an improvement to the Tribal HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program.

The Tribal HUD-VASH program is a demonstration program to help Native veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness receive rental assistance and supportive services. However, in implementing the program, HUD determined that vouchers could not be used to house veterans in housing units built using Indian Housing Block Grant funds. This restriction severely limits opportunities to house veterans on Indian lands.

“HUD’s regulatory limit unnecessarily places an additional burden on a tribe’s housing budget and additional limits on a tribe’s ability to build sorely needed new housing. Indian Country nationally faces an epidemic housing shortage. Limiting the housing stock that can be used in the Tribal HUD-VASH program forces participating tribes to make the choice of either housing tribal veterans far off-reservation in ‘eligible’ homes or foregoing the benefits of the program altogether,” wrote the senators.

The senators are requesting a no-cost fix be included in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill that would allow tribal housing authorities participating in the program to use Tribal HUD-VASH funds to provide available housing for Native veterans.

The letter led by Senator Heinrich was also signed by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

A copy of the letter is available here.

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