$30 Million Allocated Toward Ending Veteran Homelessness

veteran homelessness

There is a war taking place here and now. It is happening right where you live on American soil. It is the war of homelessness, and former US soldiers battle against it by the tens and hundreds of thousands.

Did you know our military members are 50% more likely to experience homelessness than those who have never enlisted in the armed forces? Were you aware that more than half of unhoused US soldiers are inflicted with disabilities that create endless obstacles to obtaining housing and employment?

If you’re concerned about homelessness among American war veterans, the good news is you are not alone. In fact, the public outcry to house homeless veterans appears to be working as politicians and government entities are scrambling to provide housing to this subset of the houseless population.

The general public’s sentiments toward veteran homelessness remain somewhat positive, which is likely why this type of homelessness has been reduced by more than half in the past thirteen years. Yet, even with more pathways to housing being built, too many soldiers are still falling through the cracks. The social safety nets are not quite sufficient.

Fortunately, more strides are being made in the name of this cause. At the beginning of February 2023, the Department of Veteran Affairs received a $30 million grant toward reducing veteran homelessness. Here’s a look at what that grant could mean regarding housing.

Getting Started with Housing First Strategies and Wraparound Services

While the $30 million of homeless veteran funding was announced in early February 2023, the VA does not intend to take action until October 2023. This gives them the necessary time to accept and work through applications.

These grants are to be used to fund Housing First strategies and wraparound services, a plan that has worked well in comparable models.

The Biden Administration has made it a mission to reduce veteran homelessness by at least one-fourth in the next two years. As such, this money is expected to fund those efforts through late September 2025.

As the name suggests, Housing First is an approach to homelessness that places the need for housing over other possible needs, effectively putting it first in the lineup of assistance. Ideally, once a houseless veteran is placed into permanent, supportive housing, this individual will also receive wraparound services to address potential other needs.

Wraparound services include but are not limited to:

  • Providing access to healthcare
  • Providing access to mental health services
  • Addressing financial and legal issues such as back rent, poor or unavailable credit scores, citations, and legal fees incurred due to unjust anti-camping legislation
  • Offering job training, employment opportunities, and educational assistance on an as-needed basis
  • Connecting homeless veterans with additional services that suit their unique needs

Identifying the Need for Case Management

To provide the most efficient access to care and services, the VA has also identified an urgent need for additional case managers, a total of 150 nationwide, to be precise.

Case managers work diligently by identifying and addressing veteran needs as well as developing actionable plans that sustain housing. From intake to advocacy and every step in between, case managers are critical to ensuring housing options remain permanent. Studies suggest that case management has a lasting and positive effect on homelessness reduction. 

These contributions positively impact formerly homeless veterans as well as these communities overall. Some of the positive impacts case managers have include:

  • Increasing housing stability
  • Increasing access to and engagement with physical and mental health services
  • Reducing nationwide strains on the communal healthcare system by addressing health problems before they reach emergency status
  • Improving the quality of life for housed and unhoused individuals alike

The VA extended grant opportunities to eligible homeless veterans who applied to the program by May 4, 2023, a deadline they described as “firm” on their website. While that deadline has passed, unhoused veterans and loved ones should continue seeking help through upcoming Housing First initiatives whenever applicable resources become available. 

According to a press release, the VA anticipates 350 grants in total, some of which will be used to provide more than 10,000 transitional shelter beds and 15 homeless service centers.

Will $15 million per year reduce veteran homelessness by 25% in just two years, a lofty goal? The answer will depend on how that money is spent.

The Clock is Ticking. Please Urge Your Local Representatives to Use Veteran Homeless Funds Efficiently

Due in large part to heightened public awareness, funding for homelessness reduction has drastically increased in recent years. Studies show that most voters view homelessness as a top priority. This puts pressure on local legislators to take action, which is good, but advocacy doesn’t end there.

While funding veteran homelessness is of the utmost importance, millions of dollars of grant money can only be effective if it is used to enhance solutions that house homeless people rather than imprison them. Talk to your local representatives about their strategies to end homelessness through housing.


Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith

     

Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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