WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives Friday unanimously passed a provision authored by U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer to allow state governments, including New Jersey, to deploy federal Community Services Block Grant Program investment to support our brave veterans, particularly homeless veterans.
Gottheimer’s provision was included in the bipartisan Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act, which the House passed Friday.
Gottheimer spoke on the House Floor to urge Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to support this critical provision in support of veterans.
“Supporting our nation’s brave veterans with the Community Service Block Grant program is the least we can do. After serving our country and putting their lives on the line to defend our freedom and our democracy, our nation’s veterans should not struggle to get the resources they have earned,” Gottheimer said. “But far too often, our veterans face issues finding housing and employment. On any given night, the federal government estimates that more than 40,000 veterans are homeless. On top of that, data shows that the unemployment rate of veterans ages 18 to 65 is higher than the unemployment rate of nonveterans. My amendment will add support for veterans — and in particular, homeless veterans — to the list of investments states like Jersey can make through the program.”
With Gottheimer’s amendment, Community Action Agencies will work alongside state and local agencies to raise awareness among veterans of housing programs and help those who bravely served our great country to secure the housing they need. Once stable housing is secured, Community Action Agencies will work with veterans and other eligible individuals to ensure the full range of community resources — including workforce training, health resources, and opportunities for peer support — are available to those veterans who need them most.
The bipartisan Community Services Block Grant program helps to reduce poverty, revitalize communities, and empower families and individuals to become fully self-sufficient. It helps individuals, like veterans, get and keep a good job, a good education, housing, health care, and emergency assistance, and above all – to participate more actively in their communities.
In New Jersey, the program annually serves more than 200,000 individuals and 130,000 families through the work of 25 Community Action Agencies. These Agencies are typically private nonprofit organizations, public agencies, or local government entities, like Greater Bergen Community Action, which provides education and job training, financial counseling, and more; or Bergen County’s government, where our County Executive and Commissioners have focused like a laser beam — successfully — on helping combat veteran homelessness.
Gottheimer’s work to support service members, veterans, and veteran families includes:
- Gottheimer’s first piece of legislation passed in Congress was to expand hiring of post-9/11 veterans.
- A few weeks ago, Gottheimer joined his colleagues in passing a 2.7% pay raise for members of the military to ensure we’re getting the back of those who bravely have ours.
- Late last year, Gottheimer helped pass in the House the bipartisan Student Veterans Counseling Centers Eligibility Act, which will expand access to mental health services for veterans utilizing their GI Benefits at colleges and universities through established Vet Centers.
- In March, Gottheimer helped pass the bipartisan Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act to help expand access to G.I. benefits for members of our military who serve in the National Guard and Reserves, as they do not receive the same access to vital G.I. Bill benefits.
- Also in March, working with members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Gottheimer helped pass in the House the Honoring our PACT Act to help veterans exposed to burn pits — covering veterans dating back to 1991 and Operation Desert Storm, and through our more recent post-9/11 conflicts. This included Gottheimer’s key provisions to address the mental health impacts of toxic exposure for veterans and to ensure VA information on toxic exposure illnesses is published in multiple languages, like Korean and Spanish, to help even more of our veterans.
- In North Jersey, Gottheimer has been fighting for expanded access to health care services, and helped establish the mental health care services at the VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Newton in Sussex County. He has also been working to cut through red tape with the VA Community Care Network to ensure eligible North Jersey veterans are able to receive referrals for community care at ImageCare Centers across the Fifth District. He has made critical progress on that front, and, now, more veterans in his district have greater access to health care.