Federal Policy Brief | April 11, 2013
Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) provides the missing piece for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to finally be able to end homelessness among veterans. The program uses proven, cost-effective models to serve tens of thousands of homeless veterans and their families by either preventing their homelessness from occurring in the first place, or quickly moving them out of homelessness and into sustainable housing.
Through SSVF, VA provides competitive grants to nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives to serve at-risk and homeless low-income veteran families – defined as those households where the head of household or his/her spouse is a United States veteran. For the purposes of this program, a single, unaccompanied veteran can be defined as a veteran family and is eligible to receive SSVF assistance.
SSVF is a homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing program. It compliments VA’s current tools to serve homeless veterans, including the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) transitional housing model and permanent supportive housing through the joint Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. SSVF is crucial in serving those veterans families who may only need minor, one-time assistance to prevent or end their homelessness.
SSVF is intended to be a short-term intervention that will help veteran families keep, or rapidly transition to, permanent housing. Grantees provide low-income families with case management services and direct supportive services, including rental assistance, utilities assistance, child care costs, moving costs, transportation expenses, emergency supplies, and security deposits. The program targets families who are in transitional housing, are scheduled to be homeless through eviction, or are currently homeless. Grantees assess families’ possible housing status should they receive no assistance. Eligible veterans are identified through outreach and referrals.
The Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 Budget Proposal requests $300 million for SSVF to continue to serve our nation’s veterans and their families. So far, Congress has funded approximately 100,000 SSVF interventions since the creation of the program in FY 2011 with much success: homelessness among veterans has declined by more than 7 percent since 2011.
Recommendation: Congress should continue to make ending homelessness among veterans a top priority by providing $300 million for the SSVF program in FY 2014, the amount requested by the President in his Budget Proposal. Estimates indicate that continued expansion of the SSVF program will result in great progress made toward the Administration’s goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.