On December 13, the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that a new national report shows that homelessness among veterans has been reduced by nearly 12% between January 2010 and January 2011. The 12% decline keeps the Obama Administration on track to meet the goal of ending veteran homelessness in 2015.
“This new report is good news for the tens of thousands of veterans we have helped find a home. Our progress in the fight against homelessness has been significant, but our work is not complete until no veteran has to sleep on the street,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We have been successful in achieving this milestone due to strong leadership from the President and hard work by countless community organizations and our federal, state, and local partners who are committed to helping veterans and their families get back on their feet.”
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan added, “We’re absolutely headed in the right direction as we work to end homelessness amongst those who have served our nation. This significant decline tells us that the Obama Administration is on the right path, working together across agencies to target Federal resources to produce a sharp and measureable reduction in veteran homelessness. As we put forth in the first Federal plan to prevent and end homelessness, there’s plenty of work ahead to reach our goal, but these numbers validate the work done by both HUD and VA to reach our nation’s homeless veterans and get them into permanent housing.”
According to the 2011 supplement to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) released on December 13, a total of 67,495 Veterans were homeless in the United States on a single night in January 2011—a significant reduction from the 2010 single night count of 76,329.
Since 2009, working with over 4,000 community agencies, VA and HUD have successfully housed a total of 33,597 Veterans in permanent, supportive housing with dedicated case managers and access to high-quality VA healthcare. The complete 2011 Annual Homeless Assessment Report will be available in 2012.
The VA also announced it will make $100 million in grants available to community agencies across the country to prevent nearly 42,000 veterans and their families from falling into homelessness or to quickly return them to stable housing. The funds are offered for fiscal year 2012 through VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, a homeless-prevention and rapid re-housing program.
“The problems that lead to homelessness begin long before Veterans and their families are on the streets,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “By putting more resources into prevention services for those at risk of becoming homeless, we will continue to help more veterans and their families turn their lives around.”
Last year, the VA provided $60 million through the SSVF program to community providers, which will affect nearly 22,000 people through 85 non-profit community agencies in 40 states and the District of Columbia. The program provides community organizations with funding for counseling, training, education assistance, direct time-limited financial assistance, transportation, child care, rent, utilities, and other services aimed at preventing homelessness or providing homes for participating veterans and family members.
The available funds were announced in a message posted in the Federal Register and at VA’s website, www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp. Private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives interested in the grants have until February 15, 2012 to submit completed applications.
In December 2011 and January 2012, the VA will sponsor free workshops to review the grant application process. Community organizations interested in applying for funds under this program can use the website to find dates for workshops in Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, San Francisco, and St. Louis. Community organizations seeking more information on the SSVF program can also contact VA at 1-877-737-0111 or at SSVF@va.gov.