WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Department officials announced Tuesday the availability of about $600 million in grants through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program for nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives that serve very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing.
“Those who have served our nation should never find themselves on the streets, living without hope,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said. “These grants play a critical role in addressing veteran homelessness by assisting our vital partners at the local level in their efforts. We are making good progress towards our goal to end veterans’ homelessness, but we still have work to do.”
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program is designed to assist very low-income veteran families who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. The program employs a housing-first model, officials said, an approach that centers on providing homeless veterans with permanent housing quickly and then providing VA health care, benefits and services as needed.
Required services include outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and providing or coordinating efforts to obtain needed entitlements and other community services, officials said. Grantees secure a broad range of other services for participants, including:
— Legal assistance;
— Credit and housing counseling;
— Assistance in understanding leases, securing utilities and coordinating moving arrangements;
— Representative payee services concerning rent and utilities when needed; and
— Serving as an advocate for the veteran when mediating with property owners on issues related to locating or retaining housing.
Grantees also offer temporary financial assistance that provides short-term help with rent, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, child care, transportation, utility costs and emergency expenses.
VA is offering $300 million in fiscal year 2014 funds and $300 million in fiscal 2015 funds, subject to available appropriations, officials said, and will make award decisions based on a national competition.
In fiscal 2013, VA awarded about $300 million in Supportive Services for Veteran Families grants for operations beginning in fiscal 2014 and is focusing up to $300 million in surge funding on 76 high-priority continuums of care in what VA officials called an unprecedented effort to end veterans’ homelessness in these communities.
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program served more than 39,000 veterans and more than 62,000 total participants — veterans and their family members — in fiscal 2013, VA officials said.
In November, VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the results of a HUD report that estimated there were 57,849 homeless veterans on a single night in January in the United States, an 8-percent decline since 2012 and a 24-percent decline since 2010.