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115th Congress  }                                           {     Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session    }                                           {   115-198

======================================================================



 
    TO PROVIDE FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE FOR HOMELESS OR AT-RISK INDIAN 
                                VETERANS

                                _______
                                

               December 20, 2017.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

           Mr. Hoeven, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1333]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Indian Affairs, to which was referred the 
bill (S. 1333) to provide for rental assistance for homeless or 
at-risk Indian veterans, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute and recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 1333 is to provide rental assistance and 
supportive services for homeless or at-risk Indian veterans 
residing in Indian areas; improve the availability and cultural 
suitability of VA case management services for homeless or at-
risk Indian veterans residing in Indian areas; mandate federal 
agencies to work cooperatively to better meet the needs of 
Indian veterans and tribal communities; and ensure program 
accountability through Congressional reporting.

                               BACKGROUND

    Congress created the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive 
Housing (HUD-VASH) program through language included as part of 
the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008.\1\ The program 
combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance through 
federal public housing programs for homeless veterans with case 
management and clinical services provided by VA through 
Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VAMCs). Tribes and 
Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs), which do not 
participate in federal public housing programs, are not 
eligible to participate in the HUD-VASH program.
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    \1\Pub. L. 110-161, 121 Stat. 1884 (2007).
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    Recognizing this limitation, Congress authorized $5.9 
million in funding for a demonstration program to expand the 
HUD-VASH program into Indian Country through the Consolidated 
and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015.\2\ This 
language authorized the Secretary of HUD--in coordination with 
Indian tribes, TDHEs, and other appropriate tribal 
organizations--to make appropriate adjustments to the HUD-VASH 
model to fit the unique statutory organization of Indian 
Housing Programs.
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    \2\Pub. L. 113-235, 128 Stat. 2130 (2014).
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    Twenty-five tribes are currently participating in the 
Tribal HUD-VASH Demonstration Program. HUD and VA testified to 
the Indian Affairs Committee that 103 Native veterans have 
received housing through the Tribal HUD-VASH Demonstration 
Program, 98 are in the process of being housed, and 201 are 
being provided case management services as of June 1, 2017.\3\
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    \3\Legislative Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Following bills: 
S. 1250, S. 1275, and S. __ Before the Sen. Comm. on Indian Affairs, 
115th Cong. (2017) (Statement of Heidi Frechette, Dep A Sec, Office of 
Native American Prog, U.S. Dep't of Housing and Urban Development); 
Legislative Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Following bills: S. 
1250, S. 1275, and S. __ Before the Sen. Comm. on Indian Affairs, 115th 
Cong. (2017) (Statement of Dr. Keith Harris, Nat'l Dir of Clinical 
Operations, Homeless Program Office, Veterans Health Admin, Dep't of 
Veterans Affairs).
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                          NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Since the enactment of this Demonstration Program, Indian 
tribes, HUD, and VA have encountered unique issues in the 
application of this program to Indian Country.
    HUD testified before the Indian Affairs Committee that the 
full potential of the Tribal HUD-VASH program has been limited 
by concerns related to stability of the program's funding. 
Currently, the Demonstration Program relies on continued annual 
inclusion in appropriations language. HUD noted, ``Some tribes 
are using project-based rental subsidies to develop new units 
[for the program]; however, many are reluctant to leverage the 
funding provided by the program for new units since the program 
continues as a demonstration.''\4\
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    \4\Legislative Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Following bills: 
S. 1250, S. 1275, and S. __ Before the Sen. Comm. on Indian Affairs, 
115th Cong. (2017) (Statement of Heidi Frechette, Dep A Sec, Office of 
Native American Prog, U.S. Dep't of Housing and Urban Development).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The issue of programmatic stability relates to another 
challenge reported by HUD: identifying adequate housing stock 
in Indian areas.\5\ The National American Indian Housing 
Council (NAIHC) echoed the challenge housing stock availability 
places on the Demonstration Program, and noted that this issue 
is exacerbated by regulatory restrictions placed on the types 
of tribal housing units that may be utilized as part of the 
Program.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Id.
    \6\Legislative Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Following bills: 
S. 1250, S. 1275, and S. __ Before the Sen. Comm. on Indian Affairs, 
115th Cong. (2017) (Statement of Sami Jo Difuntorum, Chairwoman, Nat'l 
American Indian Housing Council).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    HUD further testified that locating veterans who are 
eligible for and need access to the HUD-VASH program poses an 
implementation challenge for some Tribal HUD-VASH Demonstration 
Program participants.\7\ The Office of Native American Programs 
Deputy Assistant Secretary Heidi Frechette noted, ``An enhanced 
partnership [between HUD, VA, and the Indian Health Service 
(IHS)] could help identify eligible veterans by linking 
veterans who are being served by IHS health facilities with the 
Tribal HUD-VASH program.''\8\ The Department added that such a 
partnership would allow the Tribal HUD-VASH program to improve 
case management services for Native veterans residing on remote 
Indian Lands through utilization of the IHS's telemedicine 
network.\9\
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    \7\Legislative Hearing Frechette.
    \8\Id.
    \9\Id.
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    NAIHC and Tribal Demonstration Program participants noted 
that, under VA current national hiring specifications, filling 
case management positions with culturally-attuned candidates 
and in highly remote tribal areas.\10\ The Association of 
Village Council Presidents Regional Housing Authority President 
Mark Charlie also highlighted the challenge that VA case 
manager recruitment posed for two of the three Alaska Tribes 
selected to participate in the Tribal HUD-VASH Demonstration 
Program, testifying that, ``The primary barrier to the timely 
deployment of Tribal HUD-VASH vouchers in Alaska has been the 
process of filling the required case management positions under 
VA specifications.''\11\ The Association asked Congress to 
direct VA to identify reasonable alternative requirements for 
case management credentials that would address the barriers 
that prevent otherwise suitable candidates from filling these 
positions.\12\
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    \10\Legislative Hearing Difuntorum; Legislative Hearing to Receive 
Testimony on the Following bills: S. 1250, S. 1275, and S. __ Before 
the Sen. Comm. on Indian Affairs, 115th Cong. 8-9 (2017) (Statement of 
Mark Charlie, President/CEO, Association of Village Council Presidents 
Regional Housing Authority).
    \11\Legislative Hearing Charlie.
    \12\Id.
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                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    Senator Tester introduced S. 1333 on June 12, 2017 with 
Senators Hoeven, Isakson, and Udall as original co-sponsors. 
The bill was referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs. 
Senators Murkowski, Cantwell, Heitkamp, and Franken joined as 
co-sponsors on November 1, November 6, November 6, and November 
7, 2017 respectively.
    On June 13, 2017 the Committee held a legislative hearing 
on S. 1333. The Director of the Department of Housing and Urban 
Development's Office of Native American Programs testified in 
favor of S. 1333. The Veterans' Administration National 
Director of Clinical Operations-Homeless Program Office 
provided testimony on the clinical implementation of the 
Program to date. The National Congress of American Indians 
testified in favor of S. 1333, and the National American Indian 
Housing Council provided testimony in favor of continuing the 
Tribal HUD-VASH program. Finally, the President/Chief Executive 
Officer of the Association of Village Council Presidents 
Regional Housing Authority provided testimony in support of S. 
1333.
    On September 13, 2017, the Committee held a duly called 
business meeting to consider S. 1333. Senator Tester filed and 
offered one amendment in the nature of a substitute, which was 
adopted. The amendment made a number of technical corrections 
proposed by HUD and VA, clarifying that the Secretary of HUD is 
authorized to continue funding current program recipients; 
ensuring that not less than five percent of tribal HUD-VASH 
funds are used to fund new tribal HUD-VASH program recipients; 
and requiring HUD, IHS, and VA to provide a report to Congress, 
within 1 year of the enactment of S. 1333, that identifies 
Program recipients who find the current limitations on the use 
of certain Indian Housing Block Grant formula funded housing 
stock as a barrier to the application of the Tribal HUD-VASH 
program. The bill, as amended, was ordered to be reported 
favorably to the Senate by voice vote.
    On November 9, 2017, Representative Lujan introduced H.R. 
4359, a House companion bill with Representative Raul Ruiz as 
an original co-sponsor. The bill was referred to Committee on 
Financial Services. No further action has been taken.
    During the 114th Congress, Senator Tester introduced a 
similar bill to provide for rental assistance for homeless or 
at-risk Indian veterans, S. 2274, on November 10, 2015 with 
Senators Cantwell, Daines, Franken, and Udall as original co-
sponsors. The bill was referred to the Committee on Indian 
Affairs. No further action was taken on the bill, and no House 
companion bill was introduced.
    During the 113th Congress, on October 30, 2013, 
Representatives Kilmer and Cole introduced a bill, H.R. 3418, 
identical to S. 2274 from the 114th Congress. It was referred 
to the Committee on Financial Services. Representatives Daines 
and Lujan Grisham later joined the bill as co-sponsors on May 
29, 2014 and December 11, 2014 respectively. No further action 
was taken on the bill in the House of Representatives that 
Congress. On November 20, 2014, Senator Tester introduced a 
companion bill with Senators Franken, Johnson of South Dakota, 
Murkowski, and Udall as original co-sponsors. It was referred 
to the Committee on Indian Affairs. No further action was taken 
on the bill in the Senate.

                     SUMMARY OF THE BILL AS AMENDED

    S. 1333 formally codifies the Tribal HUD-VASH Program as 
part of the underlying HUD-VASH statute.\13\ It requires that 
not less than five percent of the amounts made available for 
rental assistance under the HUD-VASH Program be used for the 
Tribal program--an amount consistent with the current funding 
levels for this program.
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    \13\42 U.S.C. Sec. 1437f(o)[(19)(2017).
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    The bill authorizes HUD and VA to make any necessary and 
appropriate modifications to the administration of the Tribal 
HUD-VASH Program to facilitate the recruitment of VA case 
managers for remote tribal communities participating in the 
program and experiencing difficulties filling VA case manager 
positions. In the event of any modifications to the Program, 
the bill requires both the HUD and VA to conduct consultation 
with tribes.
    The bill requires the Program to be administered in 
accordance with the Native American Housing Assistance and Self 
Determination Act of 1996,\14\ and mandates that the Indian 
Health Service (IHS) work cooperatively to provide assistance 
as requested by the HUD or VA in carrying out the Program.
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    \14\25 U.S.C. Sec. 4101 et seq.
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    The bill also requires HUD and VA to conduct a review of 
the program's implementation and submit a report to the 
appropriate Committees of the Senate and House of 
Representatives, as identified in the bill text.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1--Short title

    This section cites the short title of the Act as the 
``Tribal HUD-VASH Act of 2017.''

Section 2--Rental assistance

    This section of the bill amends Section 8(o)(l9) of the 
United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S. C. 1437f(o)(9)) by:
     Defining eligible Indian veteran program 
participants, eligible tribal housing program recipients, 
eligible Indian areas, and eligible Indian housing 
organizations.
     Authorizing the Secretary of HUD to allocate no 
less than five percent of the total HUD-VASH program funds for 
the tribal HUD-VASH program.
     Requiring the Secretary of HUD to model the tribal 
HUD-VASH program after the rental assistance and veteran 
supported housing program.
     Establishing the funding criteria for the program.
     Requiring the program to report to the Secretary 
how the program is utilized by recipients and how effective the 
program is in serving eligible Indian veterans.
     Requiring the Secretaries of HUD and VA to consult 
with tribes on the design and administration of the Program.
     Instructing the Director of the IHS to provide 
assistance to HUD and VA as requested by the respective 
agencies.
     Authorizing the Secretaries of HUD and VA to waive 
or specify alternative requirements for any provision of law 
that the Secretary deems necessary to effectively administer 
the Program.
     Requiring the Secretary to consult with tribes 
prior to authorizing any waivers of current provisions of law.
     Authorizing the Secretary to renew tribal HUD-VASH 
program recipients.
     Requiring the Secretary, in coordination with the 
VA Secretary, to provide a report of the efficacy of the 
program every 5 years to--
          specified Committees of the Senate, including--
                  D Indian Affairs;
                  D Banking, Housing, and Urban Development;
                  D Veterans Affairs; and
                  D Appropriations;
          specified Committees of the House of Representatives, 
        including--
                  D Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska 
                Native Affairs of the Committee on Natural 
                Resources;
                  D Financial Services;
                  D Veterans' Affairs; and
                  D Appropriations.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

S. 1333--Tribal HUD-VASH Act of 2017

    Summary: S. 1333 would permanently authorize the Department 
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to renew grants made 
under the Tribal HUD-VA Supportive Housing (Tribal HUD-VASH) 
program, which is jointly operated by HUD and the Department of 
Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill also would authorize HUD to 
make new Tribal HUD-VASH grants in 2018. CBO estimates that 
implementing S. 1333 would cost $21 million over the 2018-2022 
period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.
    Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting S. 1333 would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    S. 1333 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA).
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary effect of S. 1333 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 600 
(income security).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                                   ---------------------------------------------
                                                                     2018   2019   2020   2021   2022  2018-2022
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 INCREASES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 
Authorization Level...............................................      2      0      2      8      9        21
Estimated Outlays.................................................      0      0      2      9     10        21
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basis of estimate: The Tribal HUD-VASH program provides 
rental assistance to Native American veterans who are homeless 
or at risk of homelessness. S. 1333 would permanently authorize 
HUD to renew Tribal HUD-VASH grants and would authorize HUD to 
make new grants in 2018. The Congress created the tribal 
program in 2015; in 2017, it appropriated $7 million for the 
program. Based on the funding provided in the Continuing 
Appropriations Act, 2018, and Supplemental Appropriations for 
Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017 (Public Law 115-56), CBO 
estimates that the program also will receive $7 million in 
2018, on an annualized basis.
    The bill would require HUD to allocate 5 percent of the 
funds made available for the HUD-VASH program to the Tribal 
HUD-VASH program. On an annualized basis, $40 million was 
appropriated for the HUD-VASH program in 2018; therefore, CBO 
estimates that HUD would allocate $2 million in 2018 to make 
new tribal grants. No appropriations are authorized for the 
underlying HUD-VASH program after 2018, so CBO does not 
estimate any funding for new grants in those years. Based on 
information from HUD on the pace at which tribes are drawing 
grant funds, CBO estimates that outlays for new grants would 
not occur until 2020.
    The bill also would allow HUD to set aside funds made 
available for the tenant-based voucher program to renew Tribal 
HUD-VASH grants. Based on an analysis of information from HUD 
about the pace of implementing the program, CBO estimates that 
the appropriations already provided to date will be sufficient 
to renew grants through 2019. CBO expects that in 2020 HUD 
would set aside about $2 million from the tenant-based account 
to renew grants. By 2022, that amount would increase to $9 
million-$2 million to renew the new grants made in 2018 and $7 
million to renew grants made before enactment.
    Based on information from HUD on the pace at which tribes 
are drawing grant funds and on the expected timing of renewals, 
CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost $21 million 
over the 2018-2022 period, assuming appropriation of the 
necessary amounts.
    S. 1333 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in UMRA. Indian veterans who are homeless 
would benefit from provisions in the bill that provide rental 
and housing assistance.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Reese. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
    Increase in long-term direct spending and deficits: CBO 
estimates that enacting S. 1333 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2028.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The Committee has received no communications from the 
Executive Branch regarding S. 1333.

               REGULATORY AND PAPERWORK IMPACT STATEMENT

    Paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate requires each report accompanying a bill to evaluate the 
regulatory and paperwork impact that would be incurred in 
carrying out the bill. The Committee believes that S. 1333 will 
have a minimal impact on regulatory or paperwork requirements.

                 CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW (CORDON RULE)

    In compliance with subsection 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee finds that the 
enactment of S. 1333 will not make any changes to existing law.