Ensuring all Minnesota veterans have a home is a top priority of the nearly $350 million bill heard by the House Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee Monday.
Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Newton (DFL-Coon Rapids), HF1937 would appropriate $286.55 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs and $58.79 million to the Department of Military Affairs from the General Fund during the upcoming fiscal biennium.
The bill, laid over for further consideration, reflects the budgets Gov. Tim Walz proposed for the departments in January, Newton said. More than half of the funding would go to operating veterans homes and programs meant to end homelessness among the state’s veterans.
Rep. Mark Wiens (R-Lake Elmo) asked for clarification of what exactly ending homelessness would look like from their perspective.
Andrew Garvais, Department of Veterans Affairs director of veterans programs and memorial affairs, said the goal is to achieve “functional zero,” which would not mean veteran homelessness never happens but that when it does it is rare, brief and doesn’t reoccur.
“Functional zero is where our systems in place have achieved that,” Garvais said. “We’ve made a lot of improvements over the years in those systems and the package of requests that we have here is really to help those hardest to house, those with the most extreme barriers.”
Wiens said he hopes that goal is achieved.
“I think this is going to be a good news story for us,” he said.
Some of the largest appropriations the Department of Veterans Affairs would receive for the biennium include:
Among the largest appropriations the Department of Military Affairs would receive during the biennium are: