VA Leading the Way

written by Ian Lisman
April 17, 2012

As we have discussed on this blog many times, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has set a clear goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.

The recent fiscal year (FY) 2013 VA budget proposal shows a strong commitment to this mission of ending homelessness among veterans. As part of a recent webinar on the budget proposal, I went over VA’s ask for a 33 percent increase in its budget for homeless veteran programs. This remarkable increase fully funds the transitional housing Grant and Per Diem (GPD) and permanent supportive housing (HUD-VASH) programs, as well as tripling in size the rapid re-housing and prevention model program, Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).

This budget proposal takes a hard look at what it will take to end veteran homelessness over the coming years and lays out concrete funding recommendations for these programs at a scale that will accomplish this. VA is the only agency so far to so clearly lay out its year by year goals and propose funding to achieve those objectives. By expanding SSVF, this budget takes into consideration the large number of new veterans expected to return to our communities, and the resources needed to assist these returning heroes. By continuing to fund HUD-VASH, it also provides funding for chronically homeless and the most vulnerable veterans from previous conflicts.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the VA’s model consists of implementing a broad spectrum of programs directly through its own healthcare system, as well as through community based organizations. By directly providing assistance through its Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) programs at local VA medical facilities, administering HUD-VASH housing vouchers, and partnering with community organizations to distribute GPD funding and SSVF grants, VA programs cover the range of services, housing, prevention, and rapid re-housing. All of this adds up to the full range of interventions needed to reduce and ultimately end veteran homelessness.

We at the Alliance commend VA for its leadership on this issue, and advocate for Congress to fully fund this budget, as well as provide future funding that that will make homelessness a thing of the past for veterans. VA has projected what it will take to end homelessness among veterans by 2015 and this budget reflects a solid plan to do just that.