National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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Congressional Update

FY 2010 Budget

Department of Veterans Affairs Homeless Veterans Assistance Programs

On May 7, President Obama released the FY2010 budget for all federal agencies including those directly involved with providing homeless veterans assistance programs.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) referred to its new budget as “a Veteran-centric commitment to expanded services with a 15.5 percent increase over 2009, the largest percentage increase for VA requested by a president in more than 30 years.”

Grant and Per Diem
Through the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program, VA assists community-based organizations with the provision of services for homeless veterans. GPD provides operational costs, as well as partial capital costs, to create and sustain transitional housing and service programs for homeless veterans. With an increase to nearly $144 million in FY 2010, VA will continue the development of these services and offer both grants and per diem funding.

In FY 2010 VA will also continue to fund community-based organizations that offer services for special needs populations including the chronic mentally ill, elderly, terminally ill, and homeless women veterans, including women veterans with children.

Technical assistance funding will be continued in FY 2010 to help community-based entities with establishing new programs for homeless veterans or improving upon their existing programs’ abilities and capacities.

FY 2008 funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and VA allowed expansion of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program by adding 10,105 new Section 8 “Housing Choice” vouchers. HUD-VASH is a collaborative effort supported through HUD Section 8 “Housing Choice” rental assistance vouchers and VA’s provision of intensive case management services. The primary goal of HUD-VASH is to move veterans and their families out of homelessness and into permanent housing.

VA, in partnership with HUD, plans further expansion of HUD-VASH in 2010 by adding an additional 10,000 vouchers and the appropriate complement of case management services to sustain the program. Expansion will include urban and rural municipalities.

Veteran Homelessness Prevention Program
VA requested $26 million in FY 2010 to support a pilot program that will involve partnering with nonprofits, consumer co-ops and other agencies to assist veteran families that might otherwise become homeless. The program will focus on providing supportive services specifically designed to prevent homelessness. These pilots will be coordinated with the related homelessness programs of other relevant agencies, and encompass both rural and urban sites with the goal of preventing homelessness and maintaining housing stability for the veteran’s family.

Supportive services to low-income veterans in permanent housing
In 2010 VA plans to begin implementation of supportive services for low-income veterans living in permanent housing. VA will provide grants to community and faith-based agencies to assist low-income veterans and their families by providing case management and other supportive services to help prevent the onset of homelessness. VA will develop program regulations and guidance in 2009 and award grants for the program in 2010.

Stand Down
Outreach efforts receive significant support from locally held Stand Down programs. VA organized 143 Stand Downs in 2007 and 152 in 2008. These community-based collaborations have served hundreds of thousands of Veterans and their family members since they began in1988.VA is planning to expand outreach efforts to provide “inreach” services within local VA medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics to assist veterans and their families who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Incarcerated veterans
VA implemented an incarcerated veteran prison re-entry initiative designed to prevent homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, and criminal recidivism in 2007. During 2008, over 5,000 re-entry Veterans were served in over 450 State and Federal prisons. Also in 2008, VA began developing prevention efforts to serve veterans in the early stages of involvement with police and courts. This work culminated with the planning and completion of a National Veterans Justice Outreach Conference in December 2008, and a yearlong collaboration with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on a six state veteran-focused trauma intervention initiative. The initiative will continue through 2009.

VA plans to begin implementation of supportive services for low-income
veterans living in permanent housing as authorized in Public Law 110-387. VA will provide grants to community and faith-based agencies to assist low-income
veterans and their families by providing case management and other supportive
services to help prevent the onset of homelessness. VA will develop program
regulations and guidance in 2009 and award grants for the program in 2010.

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) provides veterans and transitioning service members with the resources and services to succeed in the civilian workforce by maximizing their employment opportunities, protecting their employment rights and meeting labor market demands with qualified veterans.

Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program
The Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program (HVRP) was the first nationwide Federal program focused on placing homeless veterans into jobs. Through competitive grant awards to eligible organizations, the HVRP provided employment and training services to an estimated 14,000 homeless veterans in FY 2008 at an average cost of $1,560. DOL has requested a $9 million funding increase to $35.3 million for the program in FY 2010. This will allow VETS to serve an additional 7,200 homeless veterans.

Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program
The Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program (VWIP) activity supports efforts to ensure veterans’ lifelong learning and skills development in programs designed to serve current eligible and targeted veteran subgroups with severe employability barriers. VWIP is a program year, competitive grant program where funds are awarded to veterans and eligible persons with emphasis on Special Disabled veterans, and veterans with other barriers to employment. In FY 2010 funding for VWIP will increase to $9.6 million, a $2 million funding increase. About 4,600 participants are targeted to receive employment and training services through this program in FY 2010, which provides competitive grants to various eligible organizations.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Department of Housing and Urban Development FY 2010 budget contained no new funding for the HUD-VASH program.  However, the budget contains recommendations that will restore federal leadership on promoting affordable rental housing including capitalizing the Housing Trust Fund with $1 billion, increasing funding for Section 8 tenant based rental vouchers, enhancing funding for Section 8 project based rental assistance, and increasing funding for Homeless Assistance Grants, which are designed to help prevent homelessness.

Update on Federal Legislation

Veterans Permanent Supportive Housing
Legislation to address the need to establish permanent supportive housing for low-income veterans passed the House of Representatives on June 16 by a vote of 417-2.  H.R. 403, the Homes for Heroes Act of 2009 was reintroduced in January by Representative Al Green (D-TX) and would serve to prevent low-income veterans from becoming homeless. On June 1, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced a companion bill, S. 1160 in the Senate.

Homeless Veterans Assistance and Employment Programs
Four new bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate that would increase funding for and enhance the VA GPD Program, expand employment programs to include women veterans and those with children, and help prevent homelessness among all veterans. 

Regarding the GPD program, on May 19 Representative Harry Teague (D-NM) introduced H.R. 2504, which would provide for increased authorization from $150 million to $200 million for the GPD program. On June 4, Representative Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX) introduced H.R. 2735, which would create a separate grant fund for service center personnel, change the rate of GPD payment from a per diem daily cost of care to an annual cost of providing services, allow VA to increase the rate of payment to reflect the cost of providing services, and allow providers to use per diem funds to match other funding sources.  Both bills have been referred to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

In the Senate, on June 11, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced S.1237, the Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children Act of 2009. The bill would include male homeless veterans with minor dependents as a new category eligible for the special needs grant, which is funded under the GPD program. S. 1237 was referred to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

To increase employment opportunities for women veterans, S. 1237 also creates a DOL program that would provide employment assistance to women veterans and to women veterans with children.  Authorized spending is $10 million.

To help prevent homelessness among veterans, on May 21 Representative Phil Hare (D-IL) introduced H.R. 2559, the Help Our Homeless Veterans Act, which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a national media campaign directed at homeless veterans and veterans at risk from becoming homeless. The bill was referred to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

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