OPINION: Mass Leads on Vet Homelessness


[Yesterday, Franklin Observer republished a Stacker news service article on homelessness among veterans, nationally. State Rep Roy penned a response...]

Given your reporting on veteran homelessness on a national scale, I thought you would be interested to know what we have been doing about it in our state. To begin, the number of 'homeless' veterans in the Commonwealth has decreased by over 56.5% since 2013. Current data shows that there are 545 homeless veterans and of these veterans 274 are in transitional housing, and only 33 are unsheltered.

We have taken a number of steps to get us to this point and our veteran homelessness numbers here are much lower than the national figures you presented. Our goal has always been is to not simply provide a bed for them, but rather address their fundamental needs, break down barriers and provide them with permanent housing.

Massachusetts has the most generous veterans benefits in the nation. And three weeks ago, we voted unanimously on a bill to further expand veterans benefits here. That bill combines spending, policy and tax initiatives aimed at expanding access to health care, increasing financial benefits to former servicemembers, and ensuring that women, disabled and LGBTQ+ veterans have equal access to supports.

Our housing bond bill passed on June 5, 2024 included $20 million to establish a veterans supportive housing program to develop and preserve supportive housing for veterans and their families experiencing homelessness, including wraparound services. It also included veterans’ preference in housing through Amendment # 173 which passed 158-0. The language of that amendment is as follows:

SECTION 10A. Said chapter 40A is hereby further amended by adding the following section:-

Section 18. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a city or town that permits or adopts inclusionary zoning, incentive zoning, a density bonus ordinance or by-law pursuant to this chapter or a housing production plan submitted to the executive office of housing and livable communities may enter into an agreement with a housing developer or residential development owner to provide a preference for affordable housing to low- or moderate-income veterans, as defined in clause Forty-third of section 7 of chapter 4. The preference shall be for up to 10 per cent of the affordable units in a particular development.

The FY25 budget we passed in April included historic levels of funding for soldiers' homes and other veterans programs. And here are some of the additional veterans benefits as they relate to housing:

In 2021, The House appropriated $20 million to support veteran housing equity and end veteran homelessness. The campaign is focused on engaging directly with homeless veterans to facilitate their placement into housing, provide wraparound services, support capital investments, and offer technical assistance to providers.

The FY25 House budget also includes $7.7 million for assistance to homeless veterans and $8.3 million for veterans’ outreach centers that provide these wraparound services crucial to solving homelessness for veterans. Homeless veterans require a more nuanced, comprehensive approach as often there are underlying, compounding factors and the state is committed to providing these services.

Massachusetts Chapter 115 program is the nation’s most comprehensive program to support low-income veterans. Through Chapter 115, low-income veterans receive direct support for expenses such as housing, food, healthcare, and other daily living costs. The House’s FY25 budget funds this program at $68.2 million.

The FY25 house budget also provides unprecedented funding levels for both of the state’s soldiers homes – an increase of $4.7 million for both of them, bringing funding for the Holyoke Soldiers Home to $33,437,909 and the Chelsea Soldiers Home to $53,086,687.

In 2022, the Office of the Veteran Advocate (OVA) was created to ensure that every veteran in Massachusetts receives humane, dignified treatment in a timely manner. The OVA is further responsible for examining the services provided to veterans, advising on how to improve these services, and ensuring veterans receive all benefits and services available to them. The House budget reaffirms our commitment to veterans in the Commonwealth by increasing this line item to $2 million, an increase of $1.25 million from last fiscal year.

I have been honored to support all of these measures and will continue to look at ways to improve conditions for our veterans. And I look forward to hearing from constituents with ideas.

Jeff Roy


State Representative

Chair, Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

State House Room 43

Boston, MA 02133

617-722-2030 (w)
508-618-7126 (fax)



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