WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced more than $62 million to help more than 9,000 homeless veterans find permanent supportive housing. The rental assistance announced today is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA.
HUD is awarding $57 million to support 8,276 Tenant-Based Vouchers for rental units in the private market, and $5 million for 730 Project-Based Vouchers (PBV) for existing units or new construction in specific developments.
With HUD approaching its 50th anniversary next year, Secretary Julián Castro is focused on advancing policies that create opportunities for all Americans, including the broader Administration goal of ending homelessness among veterans. As First Lady Michelle Obama said in a Joining Forces speech in July 2014, “As Americans, the idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform spends their nights sleeping on the ground should horrify us. And so it is truly our duty to right this wrong and put an end to veteran homelessness once and for all.”
HUD-VASH is an important part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to provide critical housing and services to veterans experiencing homelessness that also includes HUD’s Continuum of Care program as well as VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).
“It is unacceptable that after their service and sacrifice, too many of our veterans find themselves living on our streets and in our shelters,” said Secretary Castro. “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.”
Welcoming the progress made with HUD and local partners under the leadership of President Obama, VA Secretary Robert McDonald added, “As long as there remains a single veteran living on our streets, there is more work to be done. HUD-VASH vouchers are a vital tool in our efforts to reduce veteran homelessness.”
“Through the HUD-VASH program, communities are making historic progress toward ending homelessness by connecting veterans who have the most intensive service needs to the foundation of a home with supportive services,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “The grant awards announced today add crucial resources to this effort, helping to deliver on the promise that every Veteran who has served America has a home in America.”
Last month, HUD, VA and USICH released a new national estimate of veteran homelessness in the United States. In January of 2013, thousands of cities and counties across the country reported 49,933 homeless veterans, a decline of 33 percent (or 24,837 people) since 2010. This includes a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of unsheltered veterans sleeping on the street.
Since 2008, more than 59,000 vouchers have been awarded and over 74,000 homeless veterans have been served through the HUD-VASH program. Rental assistance and support services provided through HUD-VASH are a critical resource for local communities in ending homelessness among our nation’s veterans.
Additionally, Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women. As evidence of that commitment, President Obama has asked for an additional $75 million for HUD-VASH vouchers to serve veterans experiencing homelessness in his fiscal year 2015 budget request to Congress.
In the HUD-VASH program, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to local housing agencies for these vouchers. Decisions are based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff offers.
Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.