Veteran Homelessness Funding in the President’s Budget

written by Ian Lisman
April 18, 2013

As you may have heard, the Administration has requested another historic increase in funding for homelessness assistance programs under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In the Administration’s FY2014 budget request the president’s budget proposal calls for 1.4 billion. This is a 3 percent increase over last year’s historic 33 percent funding increase. So what does this mean?

This budget reflects a strong, ongoing commitment to the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. It continues Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program funding at a scale necessary on both ending veteran homelessness in this timeframe and preventing future veteran homelessness. This budget also calls for an additional 10,000 HUD-Veteran Assistance Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program housing vouchers and a modest increase in VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program.

This is what a fully funded system looks like: a full spectrum of programs and interventions to address the housing needs of homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. It would ensure permanent housing for more chronically homeless veterans, put transitional housing programs in place, and expand the rapid re-housing and prevention system.

To be sure, the implementation of some expanded programs, particularly SSVF, will probably encounter some growing pains. SSVF is a relatively new program, and currently only private nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives can apply. This year, many new organizations will receive funding under this program. Some applicants will probably be better suited to run this program than others.

Some will have a good understanding of rapid re-housing and prevention, but are unfamiliar with veteran clients. Other applicants, who have a wealth of knowledge around serving veterans, will have little or no experience with the model.

But we’re here to help. The Alliance will continue to provide trainings and sessions around SSVF, through our website, webinars, and workshop sessions at our upcoming conference.

The Alliance is also closely tracking progress on ending veteran homelessness. So far, the numbers for 2013 that communities have released are promising, but we are still seeking data from the Point-In-Time Counts conducted in January. If you have 2013 count information available for your community, particularly any detailed data on veterans, please send it to the Alliance at counts@naeh.org

We want to hear about progress in your community so we can better determine if we are on track to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Moreover, this data is very important to our efforts in advocacy and technical assistance for service providers across the country.

This is an exciting time. For those of us who have been working on the stubborn problem for years and for those of us who have served in the military, it is very rewarding to see this level of funding proposed, and to see that the Administration is so dedicated to ending the national shame of homelessness among veterans..

There is a lot of political goodwill and bipartisan support for veterans, and we are hopeful that this budget request gets funded at these levels. It would provide a great example of the level of commitment and funding that we need not just for homelessness veterans, but for all homeless populations.