House Passes Veterans’ Legislation with Housing Provisions
On Oct. 28, the House passed by voice vote the Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2013, H.R. 1742. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., prevents Veterans Affairs Department aid and attendance payments from being counted as income when considering eligibility for housing grants from HUD.
“The men and women who have worn the uniform shouldn’t be sleeping on the streets,” said Heck of HR 1742. Currently, HUD includes these benefits as income when determining housing assistance eligibility.
The bill also prohibits, in determining the monthly rental assistance payment for low-income families, the amount for tenant-paid utilities from exceeding the appropriate utility allowance for that family unit size as determined by the public housing agency (PHA), regardless of the size of the unit leased by the family. It would require a PHA to approve a higher utility allowance request for a family that includes an individual with disabilities, if needed as a reasonable accommodation; a person less than 18 years old; or an elderly individual. The bill would also require the HUD Secretary to regularly publish data regarding utility consumption and costs in order to establish allowances for tenant-paid utilities.
The House passed a similar bill last year, but it wasn’t considered by the Senate before the end of the congressional session. Similar legislation hasn’t been introduced in the Senate.