How Congress Can Revive Critical Veteran Homelessness Services

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) was given special authority to provide veterans experiencing homelessness with communication and transportation services as well as food, shelter, clothing, blankets, and hygiene supplies. A senior VA official responsible for the HUD-VASH program described the special supplies and services as vital to the federal government’s effort to eliminate veteran homelessness. In addition, Grant and Per Diem (GPD) providers were given more reasonable reimbursement rates, which helped to ensure that homeless veterans in need of transitional housing could continue to be served.

VA officials and advocates for homeless veterans reached a consensus that these HUD-VASH and GPD modifications should be made permanent, even after COVID had been controlled. However, at the end of the public emergency (May 11, 2023), VA’s authority to carry out these important initiatives expired—and homeless veterans lost these vital services.

Restoring Critical Veteran Benefits

Several months have passed and Congress has seemed incapable of drafting the legislation necessary to restore those services—until now. There are bipartisan, but different, bills in the House and the Senate to help homeless veterans who depend on HUD-VASH and GPD to once again receive the whole array of benefits to which their military service entitled them.

In the House, the Housing Our Military Veterans Effectively Act (H.R. 3848) is bipartisan legislation sponsored by Representative Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), which would restore the special supplies and services for approximately one additional year. The bill would also increase the reimbursement rate for all veterans in the GPD program to 133 percent, while allowing for additional increases in certain situations. The Alliance urges lawmakers in the House of Representatives to speedily approve H.R. 3848.

In the Senate, the CHARGE Act (S. 1436) is bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the influential Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs. This bill would provide VA with three years of authority for special supplies and services and increase the GPD reimbursement rate to 200%. The Alliance urges Senators to speedily approve S. 1436.

What Comes Next

Because H.R. 3848 and S. 1436 are not the same, differences will have to be resolved in a House-Senate conference or by special agreement. The Alliance prefers S. 1436, particularly because cautious VA managers are much more likely to resume provision of special supplies and services if they know the authority to carry out the program will continue for three more years, rather than just one more year. Nevertheless, the Alliance appreciates the bipartisan agreement that allowed H.R. 3848 to move forward.

This legislation is still in play, and advocates can contact their Members of Congress in support of each of these bills.

If you have questions about advocacy, please contact the Alliance’s Samantha Wood ( If you have questions about the legislative process, please contact the Alliance’s John Threlkeld (