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Heck’s piggybacked veterans housing measure clears House

WASHINGTON — Legislation by U.S. Rep. Joe Heck to help reduce homelessness among veterans once again passed the House on Tuesday, this time as part of another measure.

“It’s been nine months since the House last passed this bill and HUD’s flawed aid and attendance policy still threatens our most vulnerable veterans with homelessness. The last thing our veterans should have to worry about is whether they will have a roof over their head,” the Nevada Republican said.

“While I commend the outstanding work of the City of Las Vegas and Clark County in meeting the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, there is still much work to be done around the country in solving the problem of veterans homelessness,” added Heck, who is running for Harry Reid’s Senate seat.

Heck said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development counts aid and attendance benefits for low-income and disabled veterans as regular income.

That approach, he said, unfairly reduces the housing assistance available to those same veterans.

Heck said the issue was brought to his attention in 2011 during a meeting of his Veterans Advisory Panel, which brings veterans in Southern Nevada together to discuss issues they are facing.

In order to receive aid and attendance benefits, severely disabled veterans must first establish eligibility for a low-income pension, which requires an adjusted gross annual income of less than $12,256 for a single veteran with no dependents, according to information provided by the congressman.

Once eligibility is determined, a veteran can receive $8,191 in aid and attendance benefits.

Heck’s legislation now has been approved by the House three times; before Tuesday the last approval came in a voice vote in May.

His previous stand-alone bills, however, have not moved in the Senate.

Passed Tuesday by a vote of 427 to 0, the bill that included Heck’s language also dealt with housing.

Contact Jim Myers at jmyers@reviewjournal.com or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @myers_dc

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