The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently published a blog that discussed how communities can fully utilize the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program in order to achieve the national goal of ending Veteran homelessness. It highlighted a letter to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) that had recently been sent by HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing highlighting strategies to increase HUD-VASH utilization. While aimed at Public Housing Agencies, it contained useful information for all community partners that are involved in the local efforts to end Veteran homelessness.
Fully Utilizing HUD-VASH to Achieve the National Goal of Ending Veteran Homelessness
By: Peter Nicewicz
The HUD-VASH program has been a vital tool in our national efforts to end Veteran homelessness and since 2008, has assisted over 90,000 Veterans experiencing homelessness by providing rental assistance with case management and clinical services. In order to help communities achieve the goal of ending homelessness by the end of this year, HUD and the VA have worked to ensure the timely deployment of HUD-VASH vouchers. In April, HUD and the VA announced over 9,300 new tenant-based HUD-VASH vouchers, for a total of 79,000 HUD-VASH vouchers now allocated to VA Medical Centers and Public Housing Agencies across the country.
Now it is up to partners at the community level, with Federal support, to put them to full use. Doing so requires communities to identify all eligible Veterans with high service needs, especially those experiencing chronic homelessness, and refer them to the HUD-VASH program. It entails engaging Veterans and helping HUD-VASH applicants through the voucher application and approval process. It entails PHAs quickly processing and issuing vouchers. It entails community partners assisting Veterans to find apartments that can be rented with the HUD-VASH voucher. And, it entails case managers providing ongoing service support so that Veterans receiving assistance through HUD-VASH can remain stably housed.
HUD’s Office of Public & Indian Housing recently published a letter highlighting strategies that PHAs can pursue to improve HUD-VASH voucher utilization. Although aimed at PHAs, all partners engaged in the community efforts to end Veteran homelessness, including Continuums of Care, VA Medical Centers, and other community partners, should understand these strategies and collaborate with their PHAs to advance their efforts of ending Veteran homelessness.
Here are two specific strategies:
- Apply for Extraordinary Administrative Fees (EAF). Public Housing Agencies may apply for extraordinary administrative fees for increased costs specifically from administering the HUD-VASH program, such as holding extra briefings for HUD-VASH clients, providing housing search assistance to HUD-VASH voucher holders, and other services to ensure that Veterans are able to move into permanent housing as soon as possible. To apply, the PHA should contact their Financial Analyst at the Financial Management Center and include documentation to support the additional administrative expenses.
- Contact your local HUD Field Office for technical assistance in deploying HUD-VASH effectively. HUD will review utilization of HUD-VASH sites throughout the year, and at sites where additional assistance may be helpful, will hold joint meetings between VA staff, HUD staff and PHAs. These meetings are not only meant to review issues that may be creating barriers to full utilization, but also to identify connections to partners which could help increase HUD-VASH utilization. If your community would like assistance from HUD regarding the HUD-VASH program, the PHA should contact the local HUD field office.
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