REP. LIEU INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO GIVE HOMELESS VETERANS ACCESS TO LEGAL SERVICES

May 25, 2017
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WashingtonToday, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) introduced the Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act of 2017. The legislation would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to enter agreements with third parties to provide pro bono legal services to homeless and at-risk Veterans across the country. A 2016 study by the VA found that at least five out of the top 10 problems leading to homelessness among veterans cannot be solved without legal help.

“The research clearly shows that legal services are as necessary to addressing the Veteran homelessness epidemic as physical housing, but the VA does not have the flexibility it needs to fund those services,” Congressman Ted Lieu said. “We must do more to fuel the partnerships between civil legal-aid and community health and housing organizations that are doing cutting-edge work to address Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles and across the nation. The Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act is an important step to ensure that no Veteran who fought for our country ever needs to fight for a roof over their head or food in their stomach.”

ENDORSED BY: The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans

OUTSIDE PRAISE:

"Veterans have defended our constitutional rights. We need to ensure that the favor is returned when veterans are facing legal challenges,” said Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander of the American Legion. “The American Legion believes that homeless and at-risk veterans deserve strong representation when dealing with eviction or routine legal matters. We hope that Congress will support Representative Lieu's legislation. The American Legion will always be an advocate for veterans in need.”

“The Veterans of Foreign Wars is proud to support this common sense solution that will assist homeless veterans with their legal hurdles” said Carlos Fuentes, National Legislative Affairs Director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “We are happy to see Representative Lieu taking issues like this head on, and we look forward to hearing about the successful outcomes this bill will bring”.

“DAV is pleased to support Representative Lieu’s Provide Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act of 2017, which will afford legal services to homeless and at-risk veterans,” said Garry Augustine, Executive Director of Disabled American Veterans. “Too often, veterans struggling with homelessness fall into a pattern which makes them unable to find stability and establish employment and a permanent residence. These critical legal services, made available through partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, will address this largely unmet need and help veterans overcome barriers and break free from the cycle of homelessness. 

"Civil legal problems — from threatened evictions to other-than-honorable discharges from the military that prevent a veteran from accessing critical income benefits — are often the greatest obstacles to a veteran’s health, housing, stability, and productivity," said Ellen Lawton, co-director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at The George Washington University. "But while the VA has long realized the impact of legal problems on housing and health, it is restricted from funding critical legal services. The Legal Services for Homeless Vets bill opens the door for tens of thousands of our nation's veterans to get the care they need to become stably housed."

"For a veteran, legal help can mean the difference between having a home and living on the street,” said Martha Bergmark, Executive Director of Voices for Civil Justice. “Congressman Lieu's bill will enable the VA to forge stronger partnerships with civil legal aid programs in order to provide vital assistance to veterans across the country.”

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