Weatherford Democrat

May 26, 2013

VETERANS' CORNER: Ending veteran homelessness


Weatherford Democrat

— By JIM VINES

On May 17, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced two new grants established toward its goal of ending veteran homelessness in 2015.

Under these new programs, homeless providers can apply for funding to enhance the facilities used to serve homeless veterans and acquire vans to facilitate transportation of this population.

Those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope. Homeless prevention grants provide community partners with the opportunity to help prevent and end homelessness on the local level. This is a crucial tool to get at risk veterans and their families on the road to stable, secure lives.

Approximately $22 million in rehabilitation funds will be available to current operational grant and per diem grantees as part of the effort to increase the useful life of the facilities previously funded under the program. The VA expects current grant and per diem grantees will apply for funding to rehabilitate their current project location and and enhance the safety, security and privacy issues associated with the homeless veteran populations they serve. A maximum of $250,000 is available per award and the award will not be more than 65 percent of the estimated total cost of the rehabilitation activity. The VA has established funding priorities  to support its oldest capitally funded projects.

In addition, approximately $2 million in funds will be available for current operational grant and per diem grantees to assist in the acquisition of vans in order to facilitate transportation of veteran participants to medical appointments, employment opportunities in the community, and facilitate grantees outreach activities. The maximum award for a van will be $35,000. The amount of their award will not exceed 65 percent of the total cost of the van. Applications for both awards are due to the grant and per diem office no later than 4 p.m. Eastern time on June 28.

This funding is available under the VA’s homeless providers grant and per diem program for current operational Grant and Per Diem grantees. The Grant and Per Diem Program provides community based organizations with funding to develop and operate transitional housing and supportive services for homeless veterans. The Grant and Per Diem Program has over 15,000 operational housing beds nationwide.

The 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, estimated there were 62,619 homeless veterans on a single night in January 2012 in the United States, a 7.2 percent decline since 2011. The AHAR reports on the extent and nature of homelessness in America. Included in the report is the annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count, which measures the number of homeless persons in the U.S. on a single night, including the number of homeless veterans. For additional information go to www.va.gov/homeless/gpo.asp or contact the Grant and Per Diem National Program Office at 1-877-332-0334.

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, remembering the men and women we have lost defending our freedoms and those still in harms way throughout the world.

Speak to you again next week.

Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.