Today, Reps. David B. McKinley, P.E., (R-WV) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA), reintroduced the Safe Housing for Homeless Veterans Act (H.R. 2065), a bill that would require veterans' homeless shelters to meet building and fire codes.
"It should be unacceptable for us to allow homeless veterans be housed in unsafe conditions," said Rep. McKinley. "After fighting for our freedom, these men and women were put in harm's way; they should not be in doubt about their own safety now that they are home again."
Many shelters are not servicing homeless veterans in compliance with state, local or federal safety codes. There have been numerous reports of fires at shelters where residents have been killed or seriously injured. Unfortunately there is no law mandating homeless shelters that receive funding from the VA to meet code. H.R. 2065 would require all shelters that receive funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs to have documentation that their building meets or exceeds all building codes.
"After seeing these conditions with my own eyes, we began to investigate whether this is something that is isolated or more instances are occurring," added McKinley. "It was unsettling to learn in our research about shelter fires where lives were lost. As a licensed engineer, I found this to be an egregious omission in the law governing VA homeless program funds. "
"It is terrible enough that so many of our returning heroes have lost their homes and livelihoods, but to not be providing safe shelters for our homeless veterans is deplorable," Rep. Napolitano said. "I am proud to join Congressman McKinley to ensure that proper safety standards are being met by organizations that seek to provide shelters for all the brave men and women that have put their lives on the line for us."
This bipartisan legislation was supported by The American Legion, VFW, DAV, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, PVA, the Homeless Veterans Coalition, the International Code Council and the Fire Marshals Association in the 112th Congress.