The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced the launch of a new program that 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,” he said. “Thankfully, these vouchers will provide a more-permanent solution to housing and services these veterans need.”
A joint endeavor between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the program has existed for three years. For VA, ending homelessness among veterans is a top priority, and the issue has been raised in numerous public forums and working groups since Eric K. Shinseki became the seventh secretary of Veterans Affairs January 2009.
In November, Shinseki announced a plan 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 more than 131,000 veterans and their families are homeless. Without the help of other federal departments, government agencies and community outreach, Shinseki’s goals cannot be met, he said in a statement released by HUD.
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 them in finding adequate homes. Eligibility for the vouchers is determined on a case-by-case basis, and requirements vary by metropolitan area, said HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan in an interview yesterday.
“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.