Final FY 2011 Appropriations Bill Restores New HUD-VASH Vouchers
UPDATE: On Friday, April 15, President Obama signed the FY 2011 spending bill into law.
WASHINGTON, April 12, 2011 – Last Friday, Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown by reaching a compromise on fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations. Although the final continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2011, H.R. 1473 – released early this morning – includes record spending cuts, it would restore $50 million for new permanent supportive housing vouchers for chronically homeless veterans.
These vouchers represent a collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) to help veterans with serious mental illness and other disabilities obtain and maintain housing. Under the program, VA provides case management and health services for veterans who receive HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers.
On Feb. 19, the House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill, H.R. 1, that would have eliminated $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers. To date, 30,000 vouchers have been allocated. An additional $50 million would raise the number of vouchers to about 60 percent of the total number most federal officials and service providers agree are needed to end chronic veteran homelessness.
“We want to commend the leadership of both the House and Senate for this compromise,” said John Driscoll, President and CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV). “Strong bipartisan support in Congress for veteran programs over the last 10 years has brought us to within reach of ending veteran homelessness. This keeps that legacy alive and, more importantly, moving forward. This act will provide housing for 7,000 of our most vulnerable former guardians and their families.”
During the last two months, NCHV has worked to restore the HUD-VASH vouchers, meeting with House and Senate committees and speaking directly with congressional leadership.
The House and Senate are expected to vote on the final continuing resolution for FY 2011 this week. The provision for new HUD-VASH vouchers will take effect once the bill has passed both houses and been signed by the president.
Other notable provisions in the bill include $3.5 billion for Community Development Block grants – $1.5 billion above the initial House spending bill, H.R. 1 – and $16.7 billion for Tenant-Based Section 8 Housing, the same level as H.R. 1.