FY 2015 Veterans Appropriations: Sample Congressional Talking Points

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Advocacy Resource | March 5, 2014

Files: VA Talking Points (PDF | 354 KB | 1 page)

Need. There are approximately 57,800 homeless veterans on any given night in America. HUD-VASH has housed many chronically homeless veterans, but the job is not finished. In addition, homeless veterans are increasingly younger, female, and/or part of a family, and many need less intensive interventions and housing services, such as prevention and rapid re-housing services.
o Use data to discuss the local population of homeless veterans and how this population has changed in recent years.

Continue Progress. We are within striking distance of reaching VA’s goal of ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. Between 2009 and 2013, veteran homelessness fell by more than 24 percent. VA has used increased resources in recent years to work with its local partners and HUD to bring its response to scale and to operate a variety of programs to meet each veteran’s individual needs.
Discuss the success of a local homeless veteran program, such as HUD-VASH or the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, using data. Mention the number of veterans in your community who would benefit from VA housing services if there were more resources available.

o Cost-Effectiveness. A number of studies have demonstrated that permanent supportive housing, such as that provided by HUD-VASH, is a cost-effective approach that helps people who have intensive needs maintain stable housing. SSVF builds upon the proven, cost-efficient models implemented by the main homeless assistance system to prevent homelessness in the first place or to rapidly place veterans and/or their families back into housing, thus reducing shelter and other emergency services costs.
Share local cost-savings studies on homelessness programs, or share data about the average cost of an intervention, if available.

Community Partnerships.VA made a strong commitment to ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015 and has worked to develop a range of interventions for each veteran’s individual needs. These programs have strengthened collaboration between VA and key community partners, resulting in increased local capacity to serve homeless and at-risk veterans.
Discuss any partnerships between your local homeless assistance and VA systems. This is a great opportunity to make the connection between similar interventions (prevention, rapid re-housing, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing) funded through HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs that also serve some veterans.

• I hope we can count on you to work with your colleagues to ensure that the final FY 2015 VA funding legislation provides $1.641 billion for VA’s homeless programs, including $500 million for the SSVF program, in order to ensure that no veteran is homeless in America by the end of 2015.