FY 2015 Appropriations: Veterans Affairs’ Homeless Programs

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Federal Policy Brief | March 4, 2014

Files: FY 2015 APPROPRIATIONS: SSVF PROGRAM (PDF | 231 KB | 1 PAGE)

The fiscal year (FY) 2015 VA funding bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee includes funding levels for homeless assistance programs within VA that will have a powerful impact in reducing the number of veterans living on the street. These funding levels are precisely what are needed in the upcoming year to stay on target with VA’s plan to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

The most significant component of VA homeless assistance programs is the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program. The request also includes case management for an additional approximately 10,000 joint Department of Housing and Urban Development – VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers, as well as continued funding of the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) transitional housing program.

SSVF Overview
SSVF provides a key component of VA’s range of interventions for homeless veterans: cost-effective homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing services. SSVF complements more intensive models for veterans with higher needs, including GPD transitional housing and permanent supportive housing through HUD-VASH. It is intended to be a short-term intervention that will help veterans and their families keep, or rapidly move to, permanent housing. Grants go to nonprofit community-based organizations, which provide low-income families with case management and direct supportive services, including rental assistance, links with employment services, and assistance with utilities, child care costs, and other housing-related expenses.

The program is targeted toward veterans and their families who are facing imminent eviction, or who are currently homeless. Eligible veterans are identified through outreach and referrals. Rapid re-housing and prevention have, for a very low cost, proven effective at ensuring stable housing for individuals and families who do not require the intensive assistance provided by the GPD and HUD-VASH programs. SSVF has already been implemented in communities across the country, with excellent results. Continuing to expand the SSVF program to scale will put VA within reach of its goal to eradicate homelessness among those who have served our country.

Current Status
The President’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal included $1.6 billion for homeless assistance programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The full House passed legislation that would include $1.4 billion for these programs, representing flat funding from the FY 2014 enacted level. The full Senate Appropriations Committee passed legislation that would include $1.641 billion for these programs, including the Administration’s proposed $500 million for SSVF, an increase of $200 million over the FY 2014 level, which will help us make significant progress toward the goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. 

Recommendation
Congress should continue to make ending homelessness among veterans a top priority by providing $1.641 billion for VA’s homeless veteran programs, including $500 million for the SSVF program in FY 2015 to finally end homelessness among veterans. In combination with results from HUD-VASH, GPD, and mainstream resources, this should continue to reduce the number of veterans experiencing homelessness and help the nation achieve the goal of ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.