Homeless groups seek $5 for veterans

Added $5 real estate fee would aid housing programs

SALEM, Ore. - Just five bucks for Oregon's homeless veterans: It's an offer being examined at a legislative committee hearing Monday.

The bill (HB 2417) would add $5 to the real estate recording fee, with the money going to help veterans with emergency housing, affordable housing and home ownership.

Alison Perry, executive director of Central Oregon Veterans Outreach in Bend, said so many young vets are coming home to an economy still in distress that an estimated 7,000 veterans in Oregon are homeless.

"They're struggling with so much, in terms of integrating their combat experiences, that it's harder for them to work," she said. "So to meet that basic need of housing can make a huge difference for someone."

The Housing Alliance reports that when veterans do find work, most of the kinds of jobs available don't pay enough to afford housing.

It's expected the increase would generate about $6 million through 2015.

Gerald Pygott is a case manager at Northwest Human Services who spends two days a week in the brush and forests looking for veterans living in tents. He said that when vets do not have a roof over their heads, they cannot concentrate on anything else.

"By stabilizing housing, then they can move forward," he said, "because that safety concern isn't there. Now they can start focusing on jobs and all of that."

Pygott said most of the homeless veterans he encounters served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, although homelessness is also persistent among older vets.

The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. as a joint session of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Development and the Subcommittee on Human Services. The legislation is available at

Deborah Courson Smith of Oregon News Service provided this report.

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