Initiative targets 115,000 homeless and at-risk Vets and families
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald today announced the award of approximately $300 million in grants that will help approximately 115,000 homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. The grants will be distributed to 301 community agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, VA is awarding grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that provide services to very low-income Veteran families living in – or transitioning to – permanent housing. Those community organizations provide a range of services that promote housing stability among eligible very low income Veteran families (those making less than 50 percent of the area median income). The grants announced today will fund the fourth year of the SSVF program.
“By working with community non-profit organizations, we have enlisted valuable partners in our fight to end homelessness,” said McDonald. “The work of SSVF grantees has already helped thousands of homeless Veterans and their families find homes and thousands more have been able to stay in their own homes.”
Under the terms of the grants, homeless providers will offer Veterans and their family members outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits and assistance in receiving other public benefits. Community-based groups can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of Veterans for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.
In 2009, President Obama announced the federal government’s goal to end Veterans’ homelessness by 2015. The grants are intended to help accomplish that goal. According to the 2013 Point-in-Time estimates, homelessness among Veterans has declined 24 percent since 2010.
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“We want to make sure our Veterans receive the care and support that they have earned and deserve,” McDonald added. “This is a program that, indeed, makes a difference.”
Through the Eliminating Veteran Homelessness Initiative, VA committed over $1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2014 to strengthen programs that prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. VA provides a range of services to homeless Veterans, including health care, housing, job training, and education.
The SSVF program has been operating over the last three years:
- In FY 2012, its first year of operations, with $60 million in funding awarded in FY 2011, SSVF served more than 35,000 participants in 40 states and the District of Columbia, of whom 3,416 were Vets who had never before accessed VA services.
- Through awards made at the end of FY 2012, in FY 2013, SSVF expanded to $100 million and 151 grantees in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
- In FY 2013, SSVF served more than 65,000 participants. In FY 2014, SSVF expects to serve approximately 115,000 participants.
- VA offered the FY 2014 SSVF NOFA at approximately $300 million in FY 2014 funds. In FY 2015, SSVF expects to serve approximately 115,000 participants.
Notably, in a follow-up of SSVF participants one year after discharge from the program, 89 percent of single Veterans and 93 percent of Veteran families who received SSVF prevention assistance did not have a reported return to homelessness; for homeless Veterans that received rapid rehousing assistance, 84 percent of single persons and 90 percent of families did not have a documented return to homelessness one year after exiting the SSVF program. Of those exiting SSVF, 84 percent have permanent housing.