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Meeting the needs of homeless veterans : hearing before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, February 23, 1994 online

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\n S. Hrg. 103-597


Y4.V 64/4: S. HRG. 103-597

fleeting the Needs of Honeless Meter...






FEBRUARY 23, 1994

Printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

s^p , 9 im


80-873 CC WASHINGTON : 1994

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-044585-X

\\j S. Hrg. 103-597


4. V 64/4: S. HRG. 103-597

eting the Needs of Honeless Ueter. . .





FEBRUARY 23, 1994

Printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs


80-873 CC WASHINGTON : 1994

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-044585-X

JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West Virginia, Chairman


DENNIS DeCONCINI, Arizona FRANK ^^^« ; ^^^^^^^

^SS^.^p^.i-.M^'^da • Sk SIMPSON, Wyoming

BOB GRAHAM. Florida ARLEN SPECTER Pennsylvania

DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii ARLEN ^J'^ili.JgRns Vermont


Jim Gottlieb, Chief Counsel / Staff Director
John H. Moseman, Minority Staff Director / Chief Counsel



FEBRUARY 23, 1994

Meeting the Needs of Homeless Veterans 1


Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV 1

Prepared statement of Chairman Rockefeller 52

Senator Daniel K. Akaka 3

Prepared statement of Senator Akaka 53

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell 53

Senator James M. Jeffords 55

Senator Frank H. Murkowski 53

Senator Strom Thurmond 54


Annis, John, Minneapolis, MN, accompanied by Jim Coulthard, Director, Transi-
tional Housing for Veterans Council of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 20

Prepared statement of Mr. Coulthard 66

Barnes, Joseph Randall, Chairman, National Task Force on Homeless Veterans,
Vietnam Veterans of America, Accompanied by Paul S. Egan, Executive Director,

Vietnam Veterans of America 45

Prepared statement of Mr. Barnes 89

Brown, Hon. Jesse, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, accompanied by Mary Lou
Keener, General Counsel; Dale L. Renaud, Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Intergovernmental Affairs and Special Assistant to the Secretary on Homeless-
ness; David A. Brigham, Director, Veterans Assistance Service; and Eric N.

Lindblom, Homelessness Policy Analyst 4

Prepared statement of Mr. Brown 55

Cooper, Ralph, M.Ed., Executive Director, Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse, Inc.,

Roxbury, MA 28

Prepared statement of Mr. Cooper 67

Cuomo, Hon. Andrew, Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Develop-
ment, Department of Housing and Urban Development, accompanied by Jacqueline
Lawing, Director, Homeless Programs; and Terry Nicolosi, Special Assistant to

the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development 6

Prepared statement of Mr. Cuomo 63

Fishman, Henrietta, M.S.W., Program Director, Comprehensive Homeless Center,

and Chief, Domicihary Care Program, VA Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY 30

Prepared statement of Ms. Fishman 69

Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Wash-
ington, DC 32

Prepared statement of Mr. Fitzpatrick 72

Johnson, John, Nashville, TN, accompanied by Jerry Washington, Director, Base
Camp, Nashville, TN 21



Rosenheck, Robert, M.D., Director, Northeast Program Evaluation Center, Depart-
ment of Veterans Affairs 34

Prepared statement of Dr. Rosenheck 83

Shafer, Maureen, A.C.S.W., Chief, Social Work Service, and Homeless Coordinator,

VA Medical Center, Huntington, WV 36

Prepared statement of Ms. Shafer 86

Thompson, Wayne, A., Director, Tooley Hall, Denver, CO 38

Prepared statement of Mr. Thompson 88


Department of Veterans Affairs response to GAO report 93

Prepared statements of Committee members 52

Prepared statements of witnesses 55

Question from Senator Akaka to Andrew Cuomo, Department of Housing and

Urban Development and the response 92

Statements submitted for the record:
Armstead, Ron E., Homeless Project Coordinator, Veterans Benefits Clearing-
house, Inc 108

Brinck, Michael, National Legislative Director, AMVETS 99

Chater, Shirley S., Commissioner, Social Security Administration 105

Cullinan, Dennis M., Deputy Director, National Legislative Service, Veterans of

Foreign Wars of the United States 101

Drach, Ronald W., National Employment Director, Disabled American

Veterans 120

Hubbard, James B., Director, National Economic Commission, The American

Legion 98

Kwiatkowski, Dennis H., Chair, Emergency Food and Shelter National Board

Program 119

Taylor, Preston M., Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training,
Department of Labor 103



U.S. Senate,
Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Washington, DC.

The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:04 a.m. in room
SR-418, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. John D. Rockefeller IV
(Chairman of the Committee) presiding.

Present: Senators Rockefeller, Akaka, and Thurmond.

Also present (staff): Jim Gottlieb, Chief Counsel/Staff Director;
John Moseman, Minority Staff Director/Chief Counsel; and Charles
C. Yoder, Minority Deputy Staff Director.


Chairman ROCKEFELLER. Good morning, everyone. I welcome you
to today's hearing on homeless veterans. This is the third that we've
had. There is obviously a growing interest in this problem. What will
be done about it and how far that interest will take us, obviously, is
what people are watching.

The very thought of a veteran wandering the streets, sleeping on
grates, having to beg for handouts — a veteran who might have served
in combat, a veteran who might suffer from mental illness or drug
addiction — is more than very troubling. The thought that a
veteran — despite training in the military, an opportunity to receive
VA medical care, benefits, and support — could end up homeless is
really very hard to imagine in this country. Even harder to imagine
is that this is the predicament of so many hundreds of thousands of

You have all heard the estimates: On any given night, up to
250,000 veterans — one-third of the homeless — are on the street or in
homeless shelters, and the numbers could, of course, be much higher.

When I chaired this Committee's last hearing on homeless
veterans, which was 2 years ago, the estimates were exactly as high,
which makes me wonder if the figures aren't higher than reported.
That is extraordinary. That is outrageous. I returned last night late
from 2 days in Taiwan, and I saw no homeless people of any sort
there. That is a country of 21 million, which has been through rigors
certainly as hard or more difficult than this country. I saw no
homeless people at all over there — none at all. But we have homeless
in America because evidently we allow that in our value system.

When I chaired the Committee's last hearing, I probably said we
have to do better. And here we are 2 years later. Does this mean
better programs? Does this mean more funding? Does this mean
better coordination? More attention? Are we driven in this country
only by the amount of attention that is paid to issues by the media as
opposed to what lies on our consciences? Is it fear of the issue? Is it
fear of trying? Is it fear of the people? Is it fear of failing? Is it
shame? In a time of declining Federal budgets, can we expect more
Federal money?

I note with interest — and with appreciation — that Jesse Brown's
original testimony was somewhat more caustic than the testimony
submitted today, because I think it reflected more genuinely Jesse
Brown, the man that I know. This testimony was slimmed down by
the Office of Management and Budget, a charming habit that we have
in this country, in our Government. But I know what Jesse Brown
thinks. I know what he feels. I know it as well as I am looking at
him. I know that he is not happy and that what he says today is not
all of what he feels.

So these are the sorts of questions that we must wrestle with
today, and in the weeks and the months ahead, and probably in the
years ahead. As always, we say that it will take years, and it will.

We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the men and women who
have served in the armed services and kept our country safe and
secure. That may be part of our fear — seeing our own images in the
mirror — when we pass people who are homeless and know that one-
third of them are veterans. What we owe in return for their sacrifices,
at the minimum, is safety and security fi'om being homeless. But we
are not doing that.

Homeless veterans are in desperate need not only of affordable
housing and job skills, but frequently, treatment for substance abuse
and mental illnesses. In some cases, the reasons veterans become
homeless are closely linked to their military service; for example,
post-traumatic stress disorder, which we have now found can go all
the way back to the Second World War, as well as the wars between
then and now. Service-connected disabilities, economic hardship,
missed opportunities from being in the service, lack of job skills — all
can cause homelessness. People gave up their lives, so to speak, to
join the service and then couldn't come back into American life easily
and comfortably, and some of those folks we may pass every night.
We know where they live; we are accustomed to the places in this
capital city of the United States of America where they are. We all
know that. We avert our eyes as we drive by — or whatever our
personal reactions might be — but they are there.

There is a wide array of problems that demands a wide array of
services. I feel very strongly that, while VA has a special obligation
to assist homeless veterans, it cannot do that all by itself. The
General Accounting Office conducted very extensive research into VA
homeless programs and is releasing its findings to the public for the
first time today. GAO has concluded, and I think correctly so, that
the demand for services from homeless veterans far exceeds VA's
capacity to meet that demand. That does not mean that we're not
part of the solution, but we cannot be all of the solution.

The Department of Labor has expertise in job training; HUD, in
providing housing; VA, in providing health care and benefits.
Nonprofit organizations are better equipped, interestingly, than we
in government, to provide emergency shelter, food, and clothing. And
each should know how to refer homeless veterans to other services,
so that no one goes fi-om one agency back onto the streets.

Our challenge, therefore, is to coordinate Federal programs and
link them to State and community services, and to expand all of
them. I am very glad to have witnesses fi'om both the Department of
Veterans Affairs, including the Secretary, and the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, somebody I admire
very much, as I do his wife; as well as representatives fi*om commu-
nity organizations here today to discuss ways to respond to this issue.

I commend you. Secretary Brown, for your stated commitment to
help homeless veterans. As I indicated before, Jesse Brown, knowing
who you are, what you have been through, where you've come fi-om,
what you fought for, where you started out — it must make you really
angry. And it is good that you are where you are. I commend you also
for your national summit on homelessness that begins tomorrow.
People laugh at summits, but they shouldn't. Summits often can
galvanize efforts and they can create that particular chemistry that
moves something forward or that particular embarrassment, that
particular shock, which allows one to overcome fear or hesitancy.

I caution everybody that we — and I include Congress in that
"we" — cannot just think about this issue when it is cold and snowy,
or when there is a Senate hearing, or when there is a national
summit. This is a 12-month problem. It is no less in the summer than
it is in the winter. It staggers one less in the summer than it does in
the winter, but it is no less a problem then for the homeless person.
It is a four-season issue. Putting a dent in this problem requires four-
season solutions. I look forward to hearing how we can work together
and more effectively to help homeless veterans.

[The prepared statement of Chairman Rockefeller appears on page

Chairman ROCKEFELLER. Mr. Secretary, if you will excuse me, I see
that Senator Akaka is here, and I wonder if he has an opening

Senator Thurmond. Mr. Chairman, would you let me say a word
before I have to leave?

Chairman ROCKEFELLER. I will. Senator, but —

Senator THURMOND. I am due on the floor on this constitutional
amendment, and I just want to commend Secretary Brown and others
who are interested in this problem. I would ask unanimous consent
that my statement appear in the record following your remarks.

Chairman ROCKEFELLER. It will be so.

[The prepared statement of Senator Thurmond appears on page

Chairman ROCKEFELLER. Senator Akaka.


Senator AKAKA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I want to add my welcome especially to Secretary Brown and his
staff here at this hearing and also to our distinguished guests who
are here to hear the testimony as well as to say something about
homeless veterains. I especially wish to recognize, Mr. Chairman,
Secretary Brown's efforts to sponsor VA's National Summit on
Homelessness Among Veterans which is scheduled to begin tomorrow.
I share the hope that the conference will draw increased attention to
the plight of the homeless and stimulate productive discussions on
ways to end this enduring social epidemic.

I will keep my comments brief, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to
working with you and other members of this Committee in addressing
the housing, health, and employment needs of the estimated 250,000
veterans who daily wander the streets without shelter or, perhaps
more importantly, without hope for the future. This Committee,
together with Secretary Brown, must address this plight.

[The prepared statement of Senator Akaka appears on page 53.]

Chairman ROCKEFELLER. Thank you. Senator Akaka.

Now, Secretary Brown, you are our first witness. I know you have
brought with you Mary Lou Keener, your general counsel; your
special assistant on homelessness. Dale Renaud; the director of
Veterans Assistance Service, David Brigham; and Eric Lindblom, who
has worked for the VA on the Interagency Council and on the
upcoming homeless summit.

I look forward to what you have to say. If possible, Mr. Secre-
tary — and I don't know if it will be with your schedule, it is
rigorous — I hope it will be possible for you to stay to hear the
homeless veterans who will follow in the next panel. I know you
would want to do that. Whether possible or not, I am very glad that
you are here, as I am very glad that you are the Secretary.


Mr. Brown. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman,
I am happy to have this opportunity to discuss homelessness among
our veterans.

I know you and members of this Committee agree with me that
this is an American tragedy. It is a tragedy when 250,000 veterans
live on the streets of America with no place to call home, when we
know that half of all homeless veterans suffer from alcohol or drug
problems, when we know a third of these men and women suffer fi-om
severe mental illness. And to make matters worse, a growing number
of our homeless veterans are now suffering fi"om AIDS/HIV infection,
and tuberculosis.

Mr. Chairman, I personally believe that the way a society treats its
veterans is an indication of who we are as a Nation. That is why in

my view the VA has an obligation to move forward in a proactive
manner to find and implement solutions to this national problem.

At the same time, as you observed, VA cannot do it alone. Our
homeless programs provide excellent service. Together, they consti-
tute the largest integrated network of homeless treatment programs
in the entire country. But the problem of homelessness among
veterans is so large that our programs cannot possibly meet every
need in every area. Besides limited resources, current law prevents
us from providing assistance to many homeless veterans.

Nevertheless, we estimate that VA provides extensive assistance
to over 50,000 homeless veterans each year £ind additional services to
an additional 50,000. Our specialized homeless programs by them-
selves serve more than 22,000 homeless veterans each year. I have
described each of these programs in my written statement, and I
request, sir, that this statement be submitted for the record in its

Chairman ROCKEFELLER. Of course.

Mr. Brown. We are reaching many homeless veterans through new
partnerships with public and nonprofit providers of services, includ-
ing, of course, our veterans service organizations. But these efforts
are not enough. VA and the Nation must do more. That is why we
have set the following goals: Raise pubhc awareness of this problem;
improve and expand VA assistance to homeless veterans; encourage
and support non-VA efforts to help homeless veterans; create a
medium by which VA and others can come together to share
information and resources; and expand VA's partnerships with other
Government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and others.

To move forward on these goals, we have taken the following
initiatives. I will continue to serve as co-vice chair of the U.S.
Interagency Council on the Homeless. I have appointed a national
coordinator of homeless services for veterans, Mr. Dale Renaud. We
are holding an assistance fair for homeless veterans right here in the
Nation's capital. Right now in Mellon auditorium on Constitution
Avenue, VA and a number of locally based providers are offering a
wide range of helpful services. The services include medical examina-
tions, substance abuse counseling, job training, and employment
information. The more than 500 homeless veterans attending will be
provided haircuts, clothing, winter coats, and personal hygiene kits.

Tomorrow, as you mentioned, we will convene the first VA
National Summit on Homelessness Among Veterans at the Sheraton
Washington Hotel. We are very, very excited about the potential of
this effort. It brings together people from hundreds of public and
private programs with experience in helping homeless veterans
rebuild their lives. We believe very strongly that by working together
and learning from each other, we can make remarkable progress and
make a powerful contribution to the overall effort to end home-
lessness in America. VA is prepared to do its share.

In 1993, VA directed more than $50 million to its specialized
homeless programs. This year, we are directing almost $70 million to
increased homeless assistance, a 40 percent increase. This funding
has enabled us to create more than 30 new homeless program sites
and support the expansion of 20 additional programs. As you know,

Mr. Chairman, these are very tough budgetary times. To continue
expanding assistance to homeless veterans, we will have to learn how
to use hmited resources in a more creative way. In this vein, we will
be forging new partnerships and bringing non-VA resources to the
problem. We plan to direct $5 milUon in funding to continue the new
VA grants and per diem program for non-VA providers next year.

Unfortunately, the many programs and new initiatives I have
outlined here today will not end the problem of homelessness among
veterans. But I believe that we in VA are moving in the right
direction. We can, and we must, find a way to help homeless veterans
lead more constructive lives. I know, Mr. Chsiirman, you would agree
with me that all of us owe these men and women no less.

And now, I will be happy to respond to any questions that you or
other members of the Committee may have.

[The prepared statement of Secretary Brown appears on page 55.]

Chairman ROCKEFELLER. I thank you. Secretary Brown, very
much. I wanted to have both you and Secretary Cuomo at the same
table. I wanted to have both of you give testimony one after the other
and then I would ask questions, as would other members, of both of
you. So what I would ask then, Mr. Secretary, is if you would yield,
or perhaps one of your people would yield his seat, so that Andrew
Cuomo may come forward and give his testimony. I think. Dale, if you
could give your seat to the Secretary at the front of the table, not the

Good morning, Andrew. Please go ahead. You have some people
with you, Jacqueline Lawing and others that I think you might want
to introduce. You might want to do that now, so we will know who
they are.

Mr. Cuomo. OK. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic
Development Jacquie Lawing, who runs the homeless programs for
HUD, is here, and Terry Nicolosi, who is special assistant to me at
the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is also here.

Chairman ROCKEFELLER. OK. Good. Thank you.


Mr. Cuomo. Chairman Rockefeller, Secretary Brown, Senator
Akaka, members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here
today to discuss HUD's role in addressing the needs of homeless
persons who are veterans. Secretary Cisneros would have liked to be
here this morning, but he had other commitments that he could not

First, let me take this opportunity to add my compliments to those
expressed by this Committee for the outstanding work that Secretary
Jesse Brown and his staff at VA have been doing. We also have the
pleasure of working with the Secretary as he is co-vice chairperson of
the Interagency Council on the Homeless. His department and HUD

are working on a number of collaborative efforts that we think hold
much promise. The summit that VA is sponsoring this week has
enormous potential to help inform the American people of the plight
that homeless veterans are in. Also, as a person who comes from the
not-for-profit field, and was in direct service delivery to the homeless
population, I have a special appreciation for the challenges that VA
faces as an agency in direct service to the homeless population. The
entire staff at VA has our admiration and respect.

You have heard the numbers, Mr. ChairmEui, of the percent of the
homeless population that are veterans. I need not bore you with that
again. As veterans are a significant portion of the population, they
therefore are an important constituency to the HUD programs. I
would like to take this opportunity to give a brief overview of HUD's
approach to addressing homelessness and some examples of projects
and programs which are serving veterans.

Secretary Cisneros has identified helping to reduce homelessness
in America as the number one priority at HUD. To that goal,
President Clinton, Secretary Cisneros, and the Congress have
significantly increased the HUD budget for these programs. In 1994,
the amount of homeless assistance provided by HUD increased to
$823 million from $572 million, a 44 percent increase. For fiscal year
1995, the administration has proposed a $1.7 billion budget for
homeless programs, which is a doubling of the 1994 program. We are
optimistic that Congress will act favorably on that request.

While this is a dramatic increase in funding, and it is essential if
we are going to make a difference, it is not going to be enough alone.
As the Chairman pointed out, we are going to have to make the

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