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Airport passengers' forgotten clothing could go to homeless vets

November 28, 2012|By Richard Simon
  • A homeless veteran and his dog. A new bill seeks to provide clothing for homeless veterans.
A homeless veteran and his dog. A new bill seeks to provide clothing for homeless… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

WASHINGTON — Unclaimed clothing forgotten by harried passengers at airport security checkpoints would be distributed to needy veterans under a House-approved bill.

The Clothe a Homeless Hero Act now goes to the Senate.

“As cold weather approaches across much of the country, this legislation will be a greatly needed help for homeless veterans while we work to end homelessness for good," Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.), the bill's chief sponsor, said Tuesday.

The Transportation Security Administration collects from 500 to 1,000 garments a day, according to Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.), vice chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

About 67,000 veterans are believed to be homeless on any given night, he said. The measure directs TSA to "make every reasonable effort" to donate unclaimed clothing to organizations that serve veterans.

In California, unclaimed clothing left behind at airports in Burbank, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Jose and San Francisco is turned over to the state and sold in bulk at auction.

Three auctions held by the state Department of General Services this year brought $279,374 into state coffers, said department spokeswoman Monica Hassan. Bins of clothing generally sell for about $25 to $30, with bins of belts going for as much as $700.

A separate measure to turn over the loose change left at airport checkpoints – $522,066.65 in the last fiscal year – for airport programs in support of the military has stalled in Congress. Congress allows TSA to use the unclaimed money to help fund its operations.

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richard.simon@latimes.com 

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