USICH Report to Congress on Homeless Veterans
For Fiscal Year 2012, the Senate Committee on Appropriations asked USICH to provide an assessment of the progress of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program and of efforts to address homelessness experienced by Veterans in rural communities and on Native American reservations. USICH is pleased to present the resulting report: USICH Report to Congress on Homeless Veterans.
The report credits the recent 17 percent reduction in homelessness among Veterans to increased collaboration between HUD and VA at the federal and local level and federal investment in innovative programs and practices for Veterans experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. One of the most effective programs for Veterans is the HUD-VASH program, which has as of September 30, 2012 provided over 40,000 Veterans with permanent supportive housing through rental vouchers provided by HUD and case management provided through VA.
The report assesses the progress of the HUD-VASH program against its performance measures concerning voucher utilization, targeting, and lease-up times. It highlights innovative practices government and community stakeholders are utilizing to improve the performance of this program, including:
- The adoption of the Housing First model for Veterans experiencing chronic homelessness;
- The HUDStat process used by HUD and VA to monitor the program’s progress;
- Rapid Results Boot Camps; and
- Collaborations with nonprofit homeless service providers.
To improve the HUD-VASH program, the report calls for increased funding for new vouchers in Fiscal Year 2013 and additional resources to pay for move-in expenses to help Veterans successfully use their vouchers.
The second portion of the report details the programs and improvements needed to address Veteran homelessness in rural areas and on Native American reservations. Veterans living in rural areas tend to be less engaged in services for a variety of reasons that can exacerbate the effects of poverty and poor health. The report calls for improved coordination of resources among federal agencies serving Veterans in rural areas and reservations and increased engagement with tribal governments.
At this critical time in our efforts to end homelessness among Veterans by 2015, it is important to understand that it cannot be done by VA alone. With continued strategic investment in programs and practices that are effective, there is tremendous opportunity to harness momentum from our progress in order to work faster and better together to reach the goal.