The Obama Administration has made it a national priority to end homelessness among veterans. But, getting that done takes much more than a government commitment. It requires a careful balance of responsive public policies and focused private and nonprofit partners—all aligned to develop housing and services that help veterans reclaim their lives. Debbie Burkart, who leads LISC's Bring them HOMES veterans initiative, talks about both sides of this equation in Veterans Day articles for Affordable Housing Finance and Next City. "Permanent supporting housing is an invaluable resource for healing and bringing hope to the men and women who served our country," she says.
The excerpts below are from:
"Tens of Thousands of Veterans Have No Place to Call Home"
by Debbie Burkart, National Equity Fund, Inc. and Ali Solis, Enterprise Community Partners
"Project-Based VASH: Powering the Push to End Chronic Homelessness Among Veterans"
by Debbie Burkart, National Equity Fund
Veterans Day is about honoring the men and women who have bravely served our country, why is it that tens of thousands of them are left to trudge from shelters to street corners with no place to call home?
We know what factors are driving the problem. Veterans suffer from disproportionately high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse and other crippling health conditions. Those without family and social support networks often find it difficult to hold a job and pay the rent. As a result, in Philadelphia alone, there are more than 1,400 veterans living on the streets, with thousands more at risk of falling through the cracks of the system, according to data just released from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s tragic and unnecessary.
In 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) significantly upped their commitments to ending veteran homelessness via project-based VASH vouchers (VASH stands for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing). Awards totaling $12 million will fund nearly 1,730 project-based vouchers aimed at leveraging existing housing units and facilitating the funding of new construction of permanent supportive housing communities for homeless veterans. Yet these dollars still represent a fraction of all VASH funding.
The HUD-VASH program combines HUD’s Sec. 8 housing choice rental assistance vouchers, which are administered by a local public housing authority, with VA’s case management and clinical services, which are provided through either a local VA medical center or a community-based outpatient clinic. Since 2008, VASH has been instrumental in reducing homelessness among veterans, with more than 59,000 vouchers awarded and serving more than 74,000 veterans. In January 2014, thousands of cities and counties across the country reported a 33 percent decline in homeless veterans, roughly 25,000 people, since 2010.
While these numbers are significant, VASH can be further leveraged to increase the supply of permanent supportive housing for veterans. Continued[+]...