USAHUD Allocates $58 Million to Help Homeless Veterans

WASHINGTON — A pro­gram announced last week by the U.S. Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment will pro­vide $58.6 mil­lion to get home­less vet­er­ans off the streets this year.

Vouch­ers will be pro­vid­ed to some 8,000 dis­placed vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies across the coun­try through the department’s Vet­er­ans Affairs Sup­port­ive Hous­ing Pro­gram, offer­ing long-last­ing sup­port to the hous­ing needs of vet­er­ans, HUD Sec­re­tary Shaun Dono­van announced June 3.

“Though they served and sac­ri­ficed so much for our coun­try, too many of our vet­er­ans find them­selves on the streets and in home­less shel­ters,” Dono­van said. “Thank­ful­ly, these vouch­ers will pro­vide a more-per­ma­nent solu­tion to hous­ing and ser­vices these vet­er­ans need.”

The pro­gram is in its third year and is a joint endeav­or between HUD and the U.S. Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs.

End­ing home­less­ness among vet­er­ans is a top pri­or­i­ty for VA. The issue has been the top­ic of numer­ous pub­lic forums and work­ing groups since VA Sec­re­tary Eric K. Shin­se­ki took the department’s helm in Jan­u­ary 2009.

Shin­se­ki announced the frame­work for a plan in Novem­ber that would end home­less­ness among vet­er­ans with­in five years. The plan out­lined his desire to attack home­less­ness at the top of the “down­ward spi­ral,” address­ing men­tal health, sub­stance abuse and unem­ploy­ment before vet­er­ans become home­less.

VA esti­mates that more than 131,000 vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies are with­out homes. With­out the help of oth­er fed­er­al depart­ments, gov­ern­ment agen­cies and com­mu­ni­ty out­reach, Shinseki’s goals can’t be met, he said in a state­ment released by HUD.

How­ev­er, efforts like HUD’s pro­gram are “a crit­i­cal, long-term invest­ment” toward help­ing those already home­less, Shin­se­ki said. The pro­gram is the largest per­ma­nent hous­ing ini­tia­tive in the nation.

“The most-effec­tive option to pro­vid­ing vet­er­ans per­ma­nent shel­ter is HUD-VA Sup­port­ive Hous­ing,” he said. “We owe deter­mi­na­tion that match­es theirs as we work to end vet­er­an home­less­ness. [The pro­gram] is immense­ly impor­tant and effec­tive to reach­ing our goal.”

Home­less vet­er­ans can receive the rental vouch­ers through their local VA med­ical cen­ter. Case man­agers at each hos­pi­tal refer eli­gi­ble vet­er­ans to local hous­ing author­i­ties, which will then assist vet­er­ans in find­ing ade­quate homes.

Eli­gi­bil­i­ty for the vouch­ers is deter­mined on a case-by-case basis, and require­ments vary by met­ro­pol­i­tan area, Bri­an Sul­li­van, a spokesman for HUD, explained in an inter­view today.

The dol­lar amount allo­cat­ed to each local hous­ing agency is based on the num­ber of report­ed home­less vet­er­ans and the fair mar­ket rental sys­tem. The indi­vid­ual vouch­ers will cov­er at least 70 per­cent of a veteran’s rent. Also, once vet­er­ans are deemed eli­gi­ble for the vouch­er, they stay in HUD’s vouch­er sys­tem until they can be finan­cial­ly sta­ble.

“Vet­er­ans will per­ma­nent­ly have sup­port and hous­ing through this pro­gram,” Sul­li­van said. “That is until they’re able to stand on their own and con­tin­ue to increase their income, which is our ulti­mate goal.”

HUD plans to announce anoth­er $17 mil­lion for an addi­tion­al 1,355 rental vouch­ers next month as well as 400 project-based vouch­ers lat­er this sum­mer, he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)