The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the V.A. Join forces to assist 2,000 Homeless Veterans
Achieve Permanent Home Occupancy
The Department of Veterans Affairs is aggressively combating veteran homelessness, with a stated goal of eliminating it by the conclusion of 2015. Veterans Inc estimates that between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year. At any given time, more than 300,000 former military personnel are living on the street or in shelters. Former military members are twice as likely as American civilians to become continuously homeless. 33 percent of homeless men in this country have military experience, despite the fact that veterans only make up nine percent of the total population. In reference to these statistics, The V.A. has said “No one who has served our country should ever go without a safe, stable place to call home.”
Recently, The U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) and The Department of Veterans Affairs announced housing assistance in the form of $13.5 million in HUD-VASH vouchers to help nearly 2,000 veterans find permanent and habitable homes. The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) merges the clinical services and case management provided by The V.A. with rental assistance from HUD. The program offers a well-rounded approach to eradicating homelessness by addressing physical, emotional and psychological symptoms at area VA medical centers as well as offering financial assistance with rent, providing the opportunity for these individuals to achieve sustainable housing. The program has awarded vouchers every year since 2008, on the basis of geographic need and public housing agency administrative performance.
Since 2008, the program has funded roughly 10,000 vouchers per year. In 2011, $50 million was distributed to assist 7,000 voucher families. Ramping up program efforts, HUD and the VA awarded $62 million in vouchers to over 9,000 homeless veterans in October of 2013. The impact of this can be seen here. Over the previous six years a total of 68,000 vouchers have been distributed, and the program has served 80,000 homeless veterans. Program participants do not contribute more than 30 percent of their income towards rent and occupy privately owned houses. This program is available in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and Guam.
Considered round two of the October 2013 Disbursement, Secretary of Housing and Julian Castro said of the recent vouchers “It is unacceptable that after their service and sacrifice, too many of our veterans find themselves living on our streets and in our shelters”, “We’ve made significant progress reducing homelessness among veterans by a third in just four years, and these vouchers will continue to help communities build on these gains, providing targeted assistance to those in need to ensure that every veteran has a home.”
A critical resource to local communities in combating veteran homelessness, rental assistance, and support services have become an integral part of the Obama Administrations platform on homeless vets. President Obama has requested an additional $75 million from Congress for HUD-VASH vouchers in 2015.