Council Member Paul Vallone (photo: William Alatriste)
Collection of data on the city's military veterans could become more robust if a pair of Queens Council Members gets their bill through the City Council.
Council Members Paul Vallone and Eric Ulrich, chair of the Committee on Veterans, are co-sponsoring a bill they will introduce to the Council on Wednesday that will require several city agencies to report on services they provide veterans. The bill would provide much clearer data on the types of services veterans are taking advantage of and could show the City where it needs to direct more resources.
"We need to ensure that every veteran who comes home to NYC is given every opportunity to prosper," Council Member Paul Vallone said by email Tuesday. "This data will go a long way towards allowing the Council and administration to make effective and fruitful efforts at ensuring that veterans are taking full advantage of the services offered to them."
As written the bill, a copy of which was reviewed by Gotham Gazette, would require the following data be reported:
-the total number of veterans residing in Mitchell-Lama housing
-the total number of applications received by HPD for Mitchell-Lama housing with at least one veteran
-the total number of vending licenses provided by DCA to veterans
-the total number of veterans who submitted an application to DCA for a vending license
-the total number of veterans residing in NYCHA housing utilizing a HUD-VASH voucher
-the total number of veterans receiving services through HRA-operated job centers
The bill would require the data be reported to the Director of the Mayor's Office of Veteran Affairs, the Veterans Advisory Board, and the City Council no later than the Jan. 30 of each year.
The data being requested could help clear up some longstanding issues in the veterans community related to housing. Data collection on veterans in the city has been spotty at best, leading advocates to guess where resources are needed and at times question statistics provided by the City - including, recently, of the number of homeless veterans the City claims.
"If the preference veterans have for HUD-VASH and Mitchell-Lama housing is consistently being underutilized then this data, including data from other agencies providing services to veterans, needs to be aggregated and given to the Mayor's Office of Veteran's Affairs (MOVA), the Veteran's Advisory Board and the City Council so that the proper outreach can be made," Vallone said.
A hearing on the bill, if there is one, would happen in the veterans committee and occur sometime in the new year.
by Kristen Meriwether, Gotham Gazette