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. VVA’s 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 VA’s 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
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 VVA’s Women Veterans Committee,
Government Affairs Committee, and PTSD Committee to move
forward toward the goal of ending chronic homelessness among