What is House Bill H.R. 3749?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 3749
In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) introduced this bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA Secretary) to provide grants to organizations that provide legal services to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness:
“The Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act provides veterans with access to legal services to resolve certain issues that can lead to homelessness. While serving as a local prosecutor and working as a board member for the Veterans Transition Center of Monterey County, I encountered many veterans who had certain legal issues that brought them to the brink or pushed them into homelessness. This legislation provides those veterans, and supportive and surrounding organizations, the resources necessary to help our veterans resolve these legal issues and get back on their feet so that they can get back to being an integral part of our community and country."
After this bill passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on October 16, 2019, Rep. Panetta said:
“Accessing legal aid should not be an added hoop to jump through for veterans struggling with or on the brink of homelessness. It is essential that Congress ensure that our veterans are properly supported. The Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act provides veterans, and supportive and surrounding organizations, the resources necessary to help them resolve legal issues and get back on their feet so that they can get back to being an integral part of our community and country."
Original cosponsor Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) adds:
“The men and women who dedicate their lives to service give everything they have for our country, but the unfortunate reality is that too many veterans struggle returning home from combat and find themselves without a home. While we’ll never be able to fully repay them for their service, expanding access to legal services for these veterans is something we can and should do right now to help."
The For Country Caucus, a group of military veteran members of Congress, has endorsed this legislation. Additionally, the American Bar Association and a number of veterans’ advocacy organizations, including Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, support this legislation.
Of Note: Over half of the top 10 issues facing homeless veterans are related to unresolved legal issues. According to the VA’s Community Homelessness Assessment Local Education and Networking Groups (CHALENG) survey, these issues include eviction/foreclosure, child support issues, securing a driver’s license, and addressing outstanding warrants and fines accumulated while living in the streets. Without legal assistance, veterans facing these sorts of issues will struggle to secure housing, employment, services, and medical treatment.
The Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) is already working to remove barriers to veterans attempting to access legal assistance. VA’s current efforts include data-sharing initiatives, lawyer training, and support for innovative legal services delivery models such as medical-legal partnerships, homeless court, and law school clinical programs.
Currently, the VA is specifically not allowed to fund or provide legal services for veterans. While the VA can provide technical assistance to the legal community’s efforts to help veterans, those efforts are limited to where and when lawyers volunteer, or where legal aid offices or law school clinical programs exist. This legislation would fix this issue.
- Sponsoring Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) Press Release
- Sponsoring Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) Press Release After Committee Passage
- Sponsoring Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) Dear Colleague Letter
- CBO Cost Estimate
- Monterey Herald
- American Bar Association (ABA) (Context)
- American Bar Association (ABA) (Context)
- ABA Journal (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / DebbiSmirnoff)
Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act
To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make grants to entities that provide legal services for homeless veterans and veterans at risk for homelessness.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not votedIntroducedJuly 12th, 2019