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Homeless Veterans Assistance Programs

Federal, State, and local governments have combined in a concerted effort to assure that no veteran has live without a home. Read on for more information on finding and using the services they offer.



Housing Assistance for Homeless Veterans
"No veteran should be without a place to call home." This motto drives the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Administration Supporting Housing Program (HUD VASH). Government funding and state and local organizations are combining in a concerted effort to assure that the men and women who have served their country in the armed forces have access to safe and secure homes, and significant progress has been made in seeking out homeless and at-risk vets and connecting them with suitable solutions.

The Homeless Veterans Assistance Center is one of the tools that has supported and driven this effort.

The Call Center
The National Call Center for Homeless Veterans Hotline operates 24/7, 365 days/year. It never closes. It can be reached at 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838). Live chat is available here. Vets may make the call themselves or a family member or concerned friend may make the call.

Calls are free and confidential. Callers have immediate access to trained counselors who are able to offer information about VA programs and mental health services. Counselors briefly screen callers to assess the level and nature of needs. Callers are then connected to the Homeless Point of Contact at the VA nearest to them. Family members and non-VA persons who call on behalf of a candidate for assistance receive information on the next steps to take and the resources available in the local community. If contact information is provided, local providers will follow up with appropriate supportive services.

New strategies and programs to allow those who previously might not have been able to find homes because of a poor financial state, addiction, or a criminal record to receive help. The VA, state, local, faith-based nonprofits, and public agencies work to move veterans into safe, affordable, permanent dwellings. Regardless of the circumstances, every vet who needs a place to live is encouraged to call. A network is in place to assist. Visit benefits.gov to learn more by clicking here.

The Requirements
Requirements to qualify for services through the Homeless Veterans Assistance Center are minimal. A recipient must be a veteran or their dependent. Also, a recipient must be homeless or at risk of losing their home, and be unable to secure a suitable place to live. There is no requirement related to income, location, or consent to treatment in order to receive an initial assessment and supportive services.

The Strategy
Opening Doors, a strategic plan put forward by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, is leading the effort to prevent and end homelessness. Under this plan, there is a move to intervene on behalf of those at risk of losing homes either through eviction or through other misfortunes and to work to keep the individual or family in suitable housing. To learn more about Opening Doors click here.

Another strategy uses a "housing first" plan. Some previous strategies worked through an "empowerment" model with a series of steps to move individuals from the street or a shelter into transitional homes and finally into a permanent dwelling. Under Housing First, the first goal is to secure a suitable, permanent home for the individual or family. After or as a permanent home is established, additional services are offered. Rather than securing employment or support services to overcome addiction prior to deeming a person ready for a home, permanent housing is the first action. Candidates for service do not have to comply with treatment or other preconditions. Housing is seen as a basic right. Once a home is provided, agencies then hope that they can offer accountability and promote self-sufficiency.

A third program that has made progress possible is Housing Choice Vouchers. Under this program, subsidies are paid directly to the landlord by the Public Housing Agency (PHA) on behalf of the participant. The tenant pays the difference between the actual rent and the subsidy, usually about 30%. Housing is in the private sector and not in public blocks.

With the Housing Choice Vouchers available, a coordinated effort began to work with landlords to provide additional market-priced private options. Landlords are assured of 70% of the rental price on the property through a voucher system. The additional 30% is paid by the tenant. With a guaranteed method of payment and support services in place, landlords are encouraged to modify their screening standards to overlook conditions which would have previously eliminated some potential tenants. Now, veterans with low credit scores, who lack funds for a security deposit, or have a history in the judicial system are assisted with locating and maintaining suitable places to live.

Though not the ultimate goal of HUD VASH, some veterans are provided with transitional homes. Transitional housing benefits are typically limited to 24 months.

The Benefits
Under programs promoted by Support Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) some 157,000 people secured stable homes. The success stories are very local and community based. Leaders in the community have joined the fight and galvanized volunteers, caseworkers, landlords, and the veterans themselves to embrace the vision of having every veteran that needs help housed in a permanent, stable home.

Support through HUD VASH is available to all veterans in need; and additional programs are in place to provide support for the most vulnerable, including women, those recently returning from combat zones, and those with disabilities.

The combination of local action, smart strategies, and federal funding has led to a measurable decline in homelessness among those who have served. Community resources are available and successful programs are in place. Every member of the community should know how to connect those in need to resources through the Homeless Veterans Assistance Center. You can make the call today that will provide a deserving veteran with a permanent safe, secure home.

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