As the federal government struggles to catch up to a massive backlog of pending benefits claims from ex-military men and women, Santa Clara County will consider a pilot program to expedite applications from local homeless veterans.
The proposal by Supervisor Dave Cortese comes before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Signing up veterans for services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will free up the county from having to pay for medical costs and other public assistance.
“County assistance will also be reduced as homeless veterans are housed and their lives become more stable,” Cortese writes in his memo.
The county’s 2013 homeless census counted 718 veterans living in shelters or on the streets.
“As the federal government continues to enhance access to health services for veterans, local governments such as ours can work collaboratively with the veterans administration to identify veterans in dire need and ensure timely services,” the memo states.
Since Cortese’s original proposal in August, the county has put together a working group to address the issue.
The federal veterans administration has been mired in controversy over its years-long backlog of claims from veterans seeking money. The scandal led to the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki earlier this year.
That backlog catapulted to upward of 850,000 cases in 2013, largely because of a surge in new veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Many of the former soldiers suffered from post-traumatic stress disorders.
“Despite good intentions, shared interests and steadily improving coordination, a unified strategy and strong local leadership on the issue of veteran homelessness is needed,” Ky Le, of the county’s Office of Supportive Housing, tells supervisors.
- A statewide sentencing reform measure that would reduce penalties for a slate of crimes is going on the ballot. A county public safety committee voted to support the initiative. Prop. 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, would ease up penalties for six crimes, called wobblers because they could be classified as either felonies or misdemeanors: grand theft, shoplifting, receiving stolen property, writing bad checks, check forgery and drug possession. The hope is that lessening penalties for some non-violent crimes will free up funds for treatment and rehabilitation.
- Testing human breast milk donated to the county’s milk bank will cost up to $120,000 through next fall.
- The county plans to give $33,500 to San Jose State University’s Records Clearance Project, which helps people expunge their criminal history.
- There has been an upward trend in the number of Latino children with open cases through the Department of Family and Children’s Services, according to a new report about the disproportional representation of minorities referred to public welfare. “Latino children and youth remain over-represented at every stage of the child welfare continuum,” the report states. They account for 58 percent of emergency referrals from 2011 to this year.
WHAT: Board of Supervisors meets
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Clerk of the Board, 408.299.5001