Housing assistance programs get Veterans back on track


Army National Guard Veteran Joseph Harrison got a new start on life thanks to the HUD-VASH program. After leaving service, Harrison faced challenges to getting back on track, including brushes with the law, substance abuse, and difficulty maintaining relationships.

HUD-VASH is the Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supported Housing—a joint program between HUD and VA that assists Veterans and their families.

Of the 26 Tribal HUD-VASH programs nationwide, the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, assists Veterans living in the rural areas of North Central and Eastern Washington, the Panhandle of Northern Idaho and Northwestern Montana – a 64,000 square mile catchment area. MGVAMC assists Veterans qualifying for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation’s Tribal HUD-VASH program as well as assisting Veterans utilizing tribal HUD-VASH programs for the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene (Idaho), and Nez Perce (Idaho) reservations, respectively.

Looking forward

With help from HUD and VA, Harrison learned to look forward rather than focusing on what’s in the rearview mirror. He now receives mental health care and support from the Spokane VA. He credits his Tribal HUD-VASH case manager, Heidi Stewart, with getting him back on track.

“Thanks to Heidi and VA, my life and outlook are way better now,” he said. “I have so much more in front of me now, including an amazing girlfriend, a beautiful 18-month old son, and another baby on the way.”

Stewart and her colleagues help Native American Veterans like Harrison secure gainful employment, housing, and VA health care. Harrison has even gone back to school and is now studying information technology at Spokane Community College.

Navy Veteran Melissa Richardson described moving to Spokane in the winter and living out of her vehicle—until she met Stewart.

“I never planned to get married and then became homeless with a child,” she said. “If it weren’t for Heidi and HUD-VASH, we would have been forced to live in a storage unit. Heidi found us an apartment. She gave us hope.”

Navy Veteran “Pistol Pete” of the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, described HUD-VASH and Heidi Stewart as blessings.

“Without Heidi, I wouldn’t be here today.”

What tomorrow may bring

HUD’s Office of Native American Programs representative Greg Roe said he’s impressed.

“This is a personally inspiring event—reminding us why we do the work that we do to help Veterans get back on their feet and feel good about themselves and about whatever tomorrow may bring.”

HUD-VASH is one program that provides Veterans with a Continuum of Care. It supports three types of housing: emergency, contract transitional, and permanent. Housing support is part of VA’s Behavioral Health Service. BHS provides Veterans with mental health assistance, substance abuse prevention services and employment support. It works with VA community partners to end Veteran homelessness.

“We are happy to have housing vouchers available for eligible Veterans,” said Dr. Quinn Bastian, chief of BHS. “And we’re honored to serve those with wounds that may not be visible but who are willing to step forward and allow VA to help them.”

For Joseph Harrison and others enrolled in HUD-VASH, letting VA help is not a problem at all. He said he’s looking well into the future with hopes of becoming a cyber operations technician.

“I don’t have a huge support network around me,” Harrison said. “What I do have is a positive outlook, the love of a woman and our child, and I have Heidi to thank for reminding me of the traits so many Vets must carry with us going forward in life: integrity, loyalty, honor, and respect.”

Bret Bowers is a USAF Veteran and public affairs officer at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center.


VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/


  1. kết cấu thép là gì    

    I really like this job of HUD-VASH. Hope for the veterans to get home soon

  2. Mickey Melissa Schaub    

    I’m in need of this. All of it. We need a new place to live. There are 3 of us and we have 3 cat’s. I’m a US Navy veteran. I need dental. I’m using mental health. The cat’s need shots and food and exams. We are trying to get propane through the vet center here in Traverse City, MI. I need help with rides to and from appointments. Sincerely, Mrs. Mickey Schaub.

  3. taurino medina    

    i am a usmc veteran. ive been without a house for years. i reacently got married this year, but mainly to have a place to stay. i get kicked out all the time and i have no family support at all. all family has turned ther back at me. i live in harlingen, Tx… can you please help me?

    1. Tyrome Smith    

      I had dependency issues in the past so I had similar problems with getting kicked out so I told myself no more. I went to the VA got help with my addiction participated in a program for homeless vets and at that time the HUD VASH program was on hold they had already given out their quota by the grace of GOD the facility I was at was downsizing we found out on a Friday and First thing Monday morning the VA was there with several solutions for us in recovery and one of the options was the HUD voucher I took them up on it and 5 years later I am still a participant and I have a lovely 3 bedroom house for my family I have a place for my sons when they come to town to visit

  4. Gary Craig Sobie    

    I am living in a motel in Bolivar, TN. I lost my wife in 2018 & lost my house that same year. I was told about a HUD program, that could possibly help me. But I don’t know if it’s this one. I am thinking I might stay. But I might try to move back to Iowa. Where I am originally from. And see if I could get a nice 1 bedroom house in Moline, IL.

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