No U.S. Veteran should be without a home.

As a former U.S. Navy officer, I am deeply troubled to see my fellow veterans, who fought in defense of this country, unable to find safe, comfortable housing.

According to a January 2017 Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), over 40,000 veterans are experiencing homelessness across our great nation, with over 15,000 unsheltered or living in the streets.

Unfortunately, California’s 39th Congressional District isn’t immune to the problem of veteran homelessness.

A 2017 study by the University of California, Irvine on homelessness in Orange County revealed that 12% of the homeless interviewed were veterans, which is slightly more than double the percentage of veterans in the county in 2015.

You read that right. Veteran homelessness is getting worse.

That is shameful. I believe housing is a basic human right and that’s why I’m running to represent the people of California’s 39th District.

At the federal level, there is much more to be done to help our veterans live a life of dignity and honor. Government programs like HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing), which helps provide permanent supportive housing for eligible homeless veterans and their families, has made some headway in reducing veteran homelessness. But this past November, the Trump administration announced the $460 million program would be ending. A public outcry forced Trump to backtrack, but the incident illustrates the fragile nature of homeless funding and the lack of sustained commitment by certain elected officials to ensure our veterans have safe, comfortable homes.

In Congress, I will fight any attempts to defund or weaken HUD-VASH.

I will also work with community leaders from the 39th Congressional District to create housing solutions for our veterans through federal, state, and private funding mechanisms and ensure money already earmarked for homeless spending gets applied.

I support the many non-profits who provide services to our veterans and the innovators, like those retrofitting cargo containers into energy-efficient, and pleasant dwellings for our veterans and their families.

President Trump promised to change Washington, but he’s just doing more of the same. I’ll go to Washington and fight for change. I don’t accept PAC donations. I’ll be independent of special interests and will fight to ensure no veteran, who fought to defend our Constitution, will find themselves living on the streets due to the failure of their elected officials.

Former Lieutenant Commander Gil Cisneros is a Education/Veteran’s Advocate running for Congress in Congressional District 39.

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