The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

July 2004
Homeless Veterans Task Force Report
   
 

Ending Chronic Homelessness

BY SANDY MILLER, CHAIR

VA Secretary Anthony Principi was named chair of the Interagency Council on Homelessness on April 1. On that same day he announced the Homeless Grant and Per Diem awardees, bringing the total number of beds for homeless veterans under the program to 10,000. VVAs HVTF commends the Secretary for this milestone achievement. However, much remains to be done if we are to end chronic homelessness in America.

At the recent annual meeting of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), several legislative priorities were taken to Capitol Hill.

Because homeless veterans have many additional barriers to employment than their non-veteran peers, appropriations in the amount $50 million in FY 2005 for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program are being sought. Another important issue is the Veterans Workforce Investment Program (VWIP). Only 16 states currently receive VWIP funds. An additional $33.5 million in FY 2005 is being asked for in an effort to extend this funding stream to additional states.

The VAs Homeless Grant and Per Diem Program is an essential component in the continuum of care for homeless veterans. The VA estimates it will need the full $75 million currently authorized to keep up with increasing per diem payments and additional per diem payments to new programs.

HUD-VASH is the only housing assistance program in the Department of Housing and Urban Development targeted for the veteran population. It is designed to provide permanent supportive housing to veterans with serious mental and addictive disorders. In the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001, Congress authorized HUD to allocate 500 additional HUD-VASH vouchers annually through FY 2006. HUD, however, has not requested the funding necessary for the additional vouchers. The requested $13.5 million funding level would allow for the 500 vouchers for FY 03 and FY 04, in addition to the 500 vouchers authorized for FY 05.

HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs are the primary source of federal financial assistance to public, community-based, and faith-based organizations providing emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and supportive services to all people experiencing homelessness, including homeless veterans. The recommendation of NCHV is to appropriate $1.8 billion in FY 2005 for HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs.

NCHV also is calling for Congress to enact HR 1906, which would revise the Transitional Assistance Program for those separating from active duty in the armed forces, making the program mandatory for all separating service members and providing for the furnishing to such members of information about homelessness.

The task force also recommends that women veterans be listed as a priority in the next capital grant round for Homeless Grant and Per Diem with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Women veterans are truly the "invisible homeless," and their needs and numbers continue to increase.

The task force is working with VVAs Women Veterans Committee, Government Affairs Committee, and PTSD Committee to move forward toward the goal of ending chronic homelessness among veterans.
 

   

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