FY 2015 Appropriations: Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program

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Federal Policy Brief | March 4, 2014

Files: FY 2015 APPROPRIATIONS: SSVF PROGRAM (PDF | 227 KB | 1 PAGE)

Program Overview

Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) in an essential program in the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) efforts 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.

The SSVF program provides homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing services to help veteran families keep, or rapidly transition to, permanent housing. SSVF is intended to be a short-term intervention, and it is crucial in serving those veteran families who may only need minor, one-time assistance to prevent or end their homelessness. 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. Eligible veterans are identified through outreach and referrals.

As homeless veterans are increasingly younger, female, and/or part of a family and many need less intensive interventions, SSVF is quickly becoming the cornerstone in VA’s range of interventions. It complements VA’s other 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 (HUD) and VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. SSVF largely reflects the effective rapid re-housing and prevention services provided to a broader homeless population through the Emergency Solutions Grant within the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program.

Current Status
The full House passed legislation in April that would flat fund the SSVF program at $300 million in fiscal year (FY) 2015. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation in May that included $500 million for SSVF to continue to serve our nation’s veterans and their families. This funding level represents a $200 million increase over the final FY 2014 level and matches the amount requested by the Administration in its FY 2015 Budget Proposal. In the first two years of the program, Congress provided funding for approximately 100,000 SSVF interventions with much success: homelessness among veterans declined by more than seven percent from 2012 to 2013 and by more than 24 percent between 2009 and 2013.

Recommendation
Congress should continue to make ending homelessness among veterans a top priority by providing $500 million for the SSVF program in FY 2015, the amount requested by the President in his Budget Proposal and included in the version of the spending bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Estimates indicate that continued expansion of the SSVF program will result in great progress made toward the goal of ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.