With more and more U.S. veterans living on the streets each year, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plus the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is trying to counteract the problem with a $58.6 million funded rehabilitation and rental assistance program that will get nearly 8,000 homeless service men and women into homes. HUD Secretary Shaun Donavan announced the new program on 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,” Donovan said. “Thankfully, these vouchers will provide a more permanent solution to housing and services these veterans need.”
The funds will be made available to state and city agencies in all 50 states, including some of the big cities like Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York City.
However, these veterans will have to meet certain income requirements in order to be eligible for the program. If they are not able to maintain that income once in a home, the funds will go back to the agency and be given to another homeless veteran. In that sense, the money is permanently being used to help displaced soldiers.
According to the VA and HUD, about 23 percent of America’s homeless population is veterans. An even smaller percentage of those are receiving assistance.
Why are so many veterans homeless? The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans website says, “The nation’s homeless veterans are predominantly male, with roughly five percent being female. The majority of them are single, come from urban areas, and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About one-third of the adult homeless population are veterans.” According to the VA, the biggest deterrent for a veteran to get back on track is the economy. It’s hard for most to find affordable housing.
That’s why HUD and VA are hoping the program and funds will not only address the rehabilitative needs of the many men and women who served the country, but also the economic concerns that plague them. The grants are part of a $75 million investment. HUD also hopes to “announce a second round of funding for another 1,355 rental vouchers next month and an additional 400 project-based vouchers later this summer,” the announcement release said.
Photo thanks to Cosmic_smudge under creative common license on Flickr.