On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that the VA will make $600 million available during fiscal years 2014 and 2015 to nonprofit groups that serve low-income veteran families who are on the verge of losing their homes.
The idea is to reduce the number of homeless veterans by reducing the number of veterans who lose their homes and wind up on the street because of the physical and mental disabilities caused by their experiences during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The $600 million will be channeled to the nonprofit groups through the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).
The problem of veteran homelessness is huge. A federal census report released in late November showed that there were 57,849 homeless veterans last year.
The Obama administration has made helping homeless veterans a national priority and has pledged to eliminate veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. That’s an ambitious goal, but progress is being made. Thanks to the efforts of the Obama administration since 2010, the number of homeless veterans has been reduced by 24 percent.
“Those who have served our nation should never find themselves on the streets, living without hope”
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families Fact Sheet describes the program this way.
The SSVF Program, VA will award grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives who will provide supportive services to very low-income Veteran families residing in or transitioning to permanent housing. The grantees will provide a range of supportive services designed to promote housing stability to eligible very low-income Veteran families.
Estimates for Veteran homelessness have dropped substantially in the past five years from 313,000 in 2003 to 107,000 in 2009. However, despite the success of VA Homeless Programs and its community partners, to end Veteran homelessness, VA must continue to assist families transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing and prevent at-risk families from becoming homeless.
Eligible Veteran Families: To receive supportive services under this program, you must be:
- A member of a Veteran family: A Veteran family is defined as a single person or a family in which the head of household or the spouse of the head of household is a Veteran.
- Very low-income: Your household income does not exceed 50% of area median income (as adjusted).
- Occupying Permanent Housing: You either (a) are residing in permanent housing; (b) are homeless and scheduled to become a resident of permanent housing within 90 days pending the location or development of housing suitable for permanent housing; or, (c) have exited permanent housing within the previous 90 days to seek other housing that is responsive to your needs and preferences.
Supportive Services: Through the SSVF Program, VA aims to improve very low-income Veteran families’ housing stability. Grantees (private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives) will provide outreach and case management services and will assist participants to obtain VA benefits and other public benefits, which may include:
- Health care services
- Daily living services
- Personal financial planning services
- Transportation services
- Fiduciary and payee services
- Legal services
- Child care services
- Housing counseling services
- Temporary financial assistance, including time-limited payments to third parties for rent, utilities, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, transportation, child care and emergency supplies.