By JIM VINES
The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Aug. 21 the second round of HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing funding to local public housing agencies across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
The $7.8 million will provide housing and clinical services for 1,120 currently homeless veterans. In May of this year, the two agencies announced $60 million in HUD-VASH vouchers.
This supportive housing assistance that is provided combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clerical services provided by VA. Since 2008, a total of 58,140 vouchers have been awarded and 43,371 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes of their own because of HUD-VASH. This action is the continued path toward a goal to end homelessness by the year 2015.
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. HUD’s annual “point in time” estimate of the number of homeless persons and families for 2012 found that veteran homelessness fell by 7.2 percent, or 4,876, since January 2011 and by 17.2 percent since January 2009. On a single night in January 2012, 62,619 veterans were homeless.
These grants are part of $75 million appropriated this year to support the housing needs of homeless veterans. Local public housing authorities provide rental assistance to homeless veterans while nearby VA Medical Centers offer supportive services and case management. HUD expects to announce more HUD-VASH funding this year.
VAMCs work closely with homeless veterans then refer them to public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of the homelessness and the need for longer-term, more-intensive support to obtain and maintain permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provide.
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.
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Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.