Gregoire Joins Colleagues in the House and Senate to Pass Veterans Bill to Support Veterans, Servicemembers and their Families
Category : General
BOSTON – Representative Danielle W. Gregoire (D-Marlborough) joined her colleagues in the Legislature to unanimously pass “An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment” (HOME Act). This legislation continues the commitment of the Massachusetts General Court to the Commonwealth’s veterans, servicemembers and military families by focusing on housing and long-term support services.
The passage of this legislation builds on the successes of the Valor Act I passed in 2012 and the Valor Act II passed in 2014, which helped Massachusetts become the number one state in the nation for providing veterans services.
“I am so proud that the Commonwealth has continued its commitment to ensuring it leads the nation in military-benefit programs and services,” said Representative Gregoire. “As the daughter and granddaughter of veterans, I cannot express enough how important it is to honor and support our brave men and women, both while they serve and when they return home. It was truly a great day, joining my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to address the needs of our servicemembers and their families.”
To increase access to housing for veterans, the bill grants veterans preference in admission for scattered site housing units where no low-income family housing has been developed. The bill also requires housing authorities to exclude amounts of disability compensation paid by the federal government when computing rent for a disabled veteran. In addition, the bill gives eligible veterans a preference in elderly and disabled housing in all communities, not solely the community in which the veteran resides.
To honor the service of veterans and their families, the bill provides a property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of any veteran or servicemember who, during active duty, suffered an injury or illness which led to his or her passing. Veterans who have a 100% disability rating for service connected blindness will also be granted a property tax exemption.
In addition, this legislation expands the Public Service Scholarship to children of any military or service person missing in action or prisoners of war, as well as extends assistance from the Military Relief Fund to servicemembers whose death was related to their military service. Previously the Fund was only for servicemembers killed in action.
Furthermore, the HOME Act adds veteran status as a protected class under the statute prohibiting discrimination in employment, provides excise tax exemption for veterans while deployed and instructs the departments of veterans services to study the implementation of a sliding scale property tax abatement for disabled veterans, costs of transporting incarcerated disabled veterans to VA medical facilities, and the implementation of tax rebates for veterans who lease dwellings to veterans.
Finally, this legislation extends the Veterans’ Long-term Care Commission and reworks the Post-Deployment Council, both of which were created through the 2014 VALOR Act and focus on housing and support services for veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian life.
The bill is now before the Governor for his signature.