More than 77,500 formerly homeless Veterans are living in their own permanent housing today because of a valuable program known as HUD-VASH. That stands for Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing.
Permanent supportive housing has been identified as a critical resource for ending homelessness.
VA collaborates with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide eligible Veterans with vouchers to assist with rent payment to participating to landlords. The program is administered by local public housing authorities.
Chronically homeless Veterans are prioritized for admission into HUD-VASH. Following the prioritization of non-chronic homeless Veterans is based on vulnerability and need for the services provided through the program.
VA provides clinical case management and services to help Veterans obtain and sustain permanent housing while also assisting Veterans in accessing treatment and other supportive services that promote increased quality of life and full reintegration back into one’s community.
“The goal is to move Veterans out of homelessness…while promoting maximum Veteran recovery.”
Because Veterans experience homelessness for a variety of reasons, case management is individually tailored to meet the needs of each HUD-VASH Veteran. The program assists Veterans who need case management due to mental health, substance use or other issues stemming from disability, economic hardship, or other barriers to permanent independent housing.
Primary Goals – Out of homelessness and into independence
The primary goal of the HUD-VASH Program is to move Veterans and their families out of homelessness into permanent supportive housing while promoting maximum Veteran recovery and independence in the community.
The HUD-VASH program operates using the principles of Housing First, an evidence based practice, that helps ensure that chronically homeless and highly vulnerable Veterans are provides opportunities to rapidly exit homelessness and maintain housing.
Housing First seeks to rapidly house Veterans in a low-barrier case management program while providing supportive services that help Veterans stay housed. It does not require treatment completion or sobriety prior to housing.
There are eight principles of Housing First, which are based on the belief that housing is a basic human right. This is in contrast to the belief that people need to earn or prove that they are deserving of housing by engaging in treatment for mental illness or substance use.
Additionally, there should be choice in options for housing locations and supportive services. Services that are provided should focus on supporting the Veteran’s recovery and individual goals.
Great success with the program
According to Jesse Vazzano, “Utilizing the principles of Housing First, we have seen great success with the HUD-VASH program and its ability to house some of the most vulnerable homeless Veterans successfully.” Vazzano is VA’s National Director of HUD-VASH.
In addition, VA prioritizes homeless populations who are particularly vulnerable, including women, Veterans with children in custody, Veterans 65 and older, Veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan during Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, or New Dawn, and Veterans with an extensive history of homelessness that does not meet chronic homeless criteria.
To apply for HUD-VASH, please contact your local VA Homeless Program. Veterans can contact the HUD-VASH program directly, or obtain a referral from a case manager in another VA program, from a community program, or other referral sources.