Following Stinging Criticism, Healy Admin Offers Vet Housing Ideas


Above, Brighton Marine in Boston, which houses about 100 veterans and their families and provides support services.

During the late April Massachusetts House budget debate, Republicans proposed an amendment aimed at prioritizing veterans for eligibility in the ever-growing Right to Shelter Program. Some 129 Democrats voted against the amendment, resulting in its failure to pass,  they said.

MassGOP Chair, Amy Carnevale, immediately called it “appalling” that newly arrived migrants were being prioritized “over our esteemed veterans.”

“These brave individuals, who have selflessly risked their lives ...deserve utmost priority in any government initiative,” she continued.

It was a rebuke that seems to have stung and now the administration has responded. Yesterday, Secretary Jon Santiago of the Executive Office of Veterans Services and Secretary Ed Augustus of the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities met with staff and residents of Brighton Marine, an organization serving vets that is colocated with drug rehab and other social services functions at 77 Warren St. in Brighton to highlight the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s “goal of reaching functional zero” for Veterans homelessness by 2027.

“We are in the business of transforming housing challenges into opportunities, especially when it comes to ending veteran homelessness,” said Santiago. “Secretary Augustus and I are committed to ensuring that veterans have the stable housing and supportive services that they need and deserve.

According to the Administration, there are only 500-600 homeless veterans in the state, though the source of that number was not explained. Franklin veterans agree that homelessness is a fact of life for some of their colleagues in Franklin today while others struggle financially to stay housed.

The administration said that many homeless veterans also have mental health and substance use issues. Combined, the Affordable Homes Act, the End Veterans Homelessness campaign and the HERO Act, will invest in the creation of new supportive housing units and make affordable housing more broadly accessible to veterans, the administration said.

The End Veterans Homelessness campaign is a multi-pronged partnership between EOVS and EOHLC to identify all homeless veterans in Massachusetts, develop and implement comprehensive and evidence-based strategies to prevent and intervene in veteran homelessness and bring it to functional zero. 

The Affordable Homes Act will commit $200 million to a Housing Innovations Fund to support innovative and alternative forms of rental housing for seniors and veterans.

The HERO Act (An Act Honoring, Empowering and Recognizing Our Servicemembers and Veterans) will expand access to behavioral health treatment, increase benefits for disabled veterans, bolster support for businesses that hire veterans, update the definition of a veteran, expand the scope of the Veterans Equality Review Board, initiate a pilot program for LGBTQ+ couples denied IVF reimbursement by the Veterans Health Administration and codify medical and dental benefits.

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