CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3553, on Tuesday, April 20, 2010, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 3553 was introduced on September 10, 2009, by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and referred to the Committee on Financial Services, which took no official action.
H.R. 3553 would exclude Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) disability benefit payments for service related disabilities from income when determining housing benefit eligibility under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA). Under current law, VA service related disability benefits are considered income for the purposes of determining means tested eligibility under NAHASDA.
NAHASDA, signed into law in 1996, reorganized how housing assistance provided to Native Americans via the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was structured. The legislation created the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) program, a formula grant that gives funds to tribes or tribally designated housing entities to provide affordable housing activities on a reservation or Indian area. According to HUD, "eligible activities include housing development, assistance to housing developed under the Indian Housing Program, housing services to eligible families and individuals, crime prevention and safety, and model activities that provide creative approaches to solving affordable housing problems." Under the legislation, a "low income family" eligible for assistance is defined as a family whose income does not exceed 80 percent of the median income for the area. Under current law, VA service disability benefits received by a Native American are counted as income for determining eligibility. H.R. 3553 would exclude such benefits from the definition of income, allowing Native Americans to receive certain VA benefits without counting the income against HUD's means tested threshold for NAHASDA.
A CBO score for H.R. 3553 was not yet available as of press time.