Office of Rep. Derek Kilmer announcement.
On Dec. 20, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) introduced the Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation to create new housing for veterans experiencing homeless. The legislation would establish a new pilot program within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program that can create more individualized transitional homes and provide more affordable housing options for veterans.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on a single night in January 2020, over 37,000 of our nation’s veterans experienced homeless – including an estimated 1,600 in Washington state. Nearly all of them experienced homelessness as individuals (98%). Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to further exacerbate this crisis.
“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom. That means that every veteran should have a home, and it shouldn’t be under a freeway overpass,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to help provide more accessible, affordable, and safe housing options for veterans experiencing homelessness.”
The Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans Act of 2021 creates a pilot program from the VA’s existing GPD program that would provide grants for recipients to build villages of individualized tiny transitional homes for our nation’s veterans who are experiencing homelessness. The individualized homes are a key to the pilot program and offer enhance safety nets and privacy for certain veteran populations – including women and the LGBTQ+ community. The villages would include wrap-around supportive services for the veterans and their families.
The legislation would:
- Require the VA to establish a 6-year pilot program as part of the GPD program to award five grants totaling $10 million annually to recipients to build villages of tiny homes.
- Utilize already existing GPD funds to establish the pilot program.
- Fill gaps in the GPD program’s case management by expanding veterans’ access to critical resources to help them get quickly back on their feet.
- Ensure veterans experiencing homelessness, and their families, have increased access to supportive services including job training benefits, counseling services, financial management, and educational opportunities.
- Give preference to grant recipients who use energy efficient building materials, such as cross-laminated timber (CLT).
- Require the VA to better track outcomes of veterans experiencing homelessness.
The Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans Act of 2021, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Nancy Macy (SC-01), is supported by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Up for Growth Action, AMVETS, the American Legion, the Fleet Reserve Association, Pennies for Quarters, and the Composite Recycling Technology Center.
“This is an outstanding piece of legislation that will help our military veterans who are homeless,” said David Walter, CEO of the Composite Recycling Technology Center,who have developed sustainable wood panels for tiny homes. “We applaud Congressman Kilmer for his leadership in promoting much needed housing that is both durable and energy efficient for those who have served our country and need a hand up.”
“We will come together to support veterans,” said Dona Ponepinto, CEO of United Way of Pierce County. “There is dignity in providing ample housing resources for veterans fighting homelessness and all who deserve a place to call home. A partnership between the VA and local providers will help us fulfill the promises we have made as a community by forging a pathway out of poverty together.”
“We are proud to support the Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans Act, a bill to provide much-needed housing to those who have made heroic sacrifices for our country,” said Mike Kingsella, CEO of Up for Growth Action. “It is unacceptable for a veteran or any American to sleep without a roof over their head, yet in the United States, more than 37,000 veterans experienced homelessness in 2020. With hundreds of thousands of veterans struggling to afford rent and an eight percent homeless rate among former service members nationwide, now is the time for common-sense policy solutions that recognize and honor their service. We applaud Reps. Kilmer and Mace for their leadership on this vital issue and for introducing innovative legislation to help address the nation’s housing shortage. The Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans Act is a bold step in the right direction for supporting veterans with accessible and affordable housing.”
“As Executive Director of Quixote Communities, a Washington nonprofit that develops and manages permanent supportive housing for veterans and others experiencing homelessness, I am proud to support this bill,” said Colleen Carmichael, Executive Director of Quixote Communities. “The tiny home village model has produced tremendous success for Quixote Communities’ residents, helping many to improve their health, reconnect with family, go back to school and/or obtain employment. This year, we were proud to open a tiny home veterans village in Orting, Washington, and will open another in Shelton, Washington, next year. This bill will help transform the lives of those who served our country, and it deserves all of our support.”
“FRA supports this legislation because we believe the VA and other government agencies should enhance and invest in efforts to ensure that veterans’ homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring,” said John Davis, Director of Legislative Programs for the Fleet Reserve Association.
“We appreciate Rep. Kilmer’s efforts to explore the use of prefabricated housing as temporary accommodations for homeless veterans.” – National Alliance to End Homelessness
“As a military veteran, I know first-hand some of the challenges that our brave service men and woman go through during re-entry,” said Matthew Rainwater, founder and president of Pennies For Quarters, who are working to build tiny homes for homeless veterans in Port Angeles, WA. “As a not for profit, securing the needed funding is all that stands in the way of achieving our vision of providing a hand up to homeless vets by offering a clean, safe place to live.”