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Identity & Community

State Lawmakers Call on Businesses to Help Homeless Veterans

State Senators Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) and Randy Vulakovich (R–Allegheny) are calling on Pennsylvania business owners to help house homeless veterans.

The senators are reintroducing legislation to amend the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP), which provides a tax credit to businesses in exchange for monetary contributions to neighborhood-based housing and community improvement initiatives.

The tax credit is worth between 55 and 80 percent of the business’s contribution.

“It’s a great private public partnership to incentivize private donations in order to provide investment for neighborhood-based housing and community improvement initiatives in various neighborhoods throughout Pennsylvania,” Smith said.

But currently with NAP, the applicants are required to identify the neighborhood or community which will benefit from the businesses’ contributions. 

However, this proposal would permit businesses to designate money for housing for homeless veterans anywhere in the state.

“Dollars that were donated wouldn’t have to be specifically tied to a geographic location,” Smith said. “DCD – the Department of Community and Economic Development – could use those dollars to address veterans’ homelessness and veterans’ housing issues anywhere in Pennsylvania.”

Companies would be able to donate directly to veterans organizations and then apply for the tax credit.

Smith said when NAP was last updated in 2007, the scope of homelessness among veterans was unclear.

“There needed to be improvements to the bill to make sure that those dollars could go in a targeted way and a better way to help support veterans,” Smith said. “And the issue of veterans homelessness is something that’s received a lot of attention over the last five to seven years since the last update,” Smith said.

The legislation was first introduced last year but failed to come up for a vote. Smith hopes that the early reintroduction will help push it through this session.

He said it is important to make sure the necessary support is provided to all veterans when they return home so they know their sacrifice is appreciated.

“We’ve got to make sure we address the homelessness issue, we’ve got to make sure we address job training, healthcare, education, employment – really across the board,” Smith said. “This is one small piece of the puzzle, but the puzzle is much larger, and we need to address all of those areas to show the proper support for all veterans who have made such sacrifices on behalf of all of us.”

The legislation is currently in the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.