Glen Allen, Virginia. Learning about homeless veterans, one can’t help but encounter the term HUD-VASH, when at first glance, looked so foreign to me.
Out of curiosity, I decided to check it out.
My research led me to know that this is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program.
HUD-VASH is a collaborative program between HUD and VA that combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help Veterans who are homeless and their families find and sustain permanent housing.
Furthermore, the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher program serves as the country's most effective means of providing rental assistance to homeless veterans.
The program combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The VA provides these services for participating veterans at VA medical centers (VAMCs) and community-based outreach clinics.
Typically, the program follows the same regulations as those prescribed for the standard HCV program, but HUD is allowed to waive or provide alternative requirements for any stipulation of any statute or regulation affecting the HCV program to effectively administer and remit VASH voucher aid.
Before we go further, I will share its history which I stumbled upon in the article of John Driscoll, President and CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
Although the HUD-VASH program was originally created in the early 1990s, it did not receive strong federal support for many years.
In 2007, as soldiers began returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan to a troubled U.S. economy, Congress demonstrated strong interest in preventing and reducing homelessness among this population.
Hence, Congress began funding these special purpose vouchers in earnest in the FY08 HUD Appropriations Act with an allocation of $75 million for approximately 10,000 vouchers.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration announced in late 2009 that it was setting a goal of ending homelessness among veterans within five years, and VASH became an important tool for achieving this goal.
Since FY08, Congress has allocated the same $75 million to HUD for approximately 10,000 new vouchers each year with the only exception being the FY11 appropriations act; $50 million was awarded in FY11 for approximately 7,500 vouchers in the continuing resolution that year.
Advocates originally identified approximately 60,000 chronically homeless veterans who could have their homelessness ended with a HUD-VASH voucher and encouraged Congress and the Administration to set this as a target for the number of vouchers on the street.
Initial voucher allocation was not geared towards chronically homeless veterans, however, only in the past two years have HUD and the VA become more successful in encouraging communities to target vouchers more deeply.
At the same time, due to an overall shortage of affordable housing and scarce rental assistance for homeless veterans through other programs, many communities chose to award VASH vouchers to homeless veterans who were not chronically homeless.
In the coming years, Congress and the Administration along with interested community partners and homeless advocates will need to reassess what resources are needed to end homelessness for both the chronically homeless as well as other homeless veterans.
Improved planning and coordination at the local level will be key to success.
I’m amazed that there really is an entity formed to help our homeless veterans.
Continuing my quest, I’ve learned so many positive aspects of this program, that:
Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has allowed Section 8 tenants to use their vouchers toward the purchase of a home;
That all branches of the military offer emergency housing assistance which enable veterans to obtain permanent housing;
That the Veterans Affairs has a mortgage program that helps members buy their preferred house without a down payment, and an easy and flexible policy to help Veterans acquiring a home; and
That there is also a program from the Veterans Affairs to help house Veterans prevent foreclosure of their homes. They give assistance and look for solutions for Veterans in said circumstances.
But wait, how does this work you ask? Let’s take a closer look with the discovery I’ve made so far. I’ve come to know that
HUD-VASH is a collaborative program between HUD and VA that combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help Veterans who are homeless and their families find and sustain permanent housing;
HUD allocates Housing Choice Vouchers that allow homeless veterans and their families to live in rental units while the VA provides case management services;
The housing subsidy is being paid to the landlord of the veterans and the remaining difference of rental is being shouldered by the Veterans; and
VA case managers connects these Veterans with support services such as health care, mental health treatment and substance use counseling to help them recover and maintain their housing in the community.
Furthermore, I’ve discovered these frequently asked questions which might help in understanding HUD-VASH
What does HUD Vash pay for?
Through the HUD-VASH program, eligible homeless veterans receive housing assistance from local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to rent privately owned housing while receiving case management and clinical and supportive services from the VA.
How long does it take to get HUD Vash?
Including the subsequent inspection, the entire process can take 4-6 weeks total.
How long can a veteran stay on HUD-Vash?
Veterans in transitional housing longer than 90 days are no longer eligible for HUD-VASH.
How long is the VASH voucher good for?
If HUD-VASH vouchers go unused, they expire.
It generally happens after 120 days unless the veteran gets a hardship extension.
Is HUD-Vash a policy?
It is VHA policy for HUD-VASH to provide clinical case management and supportive services to Veterans in HUD-VASH by utilizing the principles of Housing First, a team-based model of care, comprised of multi-disciplinary staff, and shared caseloads.
As an Owner or Operator, How Does This Affect My Business?
While many housing providers are interested in participating in the VASH program, burdensome requirements and inefficiencies in the program can be challenging and deter acceptance of the vouchers. However, the wrap-around services provided to VASH recipients and their families helps to ensure issues are addressed in a more expedient manner than the standard HCV program.
Do VA benefits cover Housing?
VA housing assistance can help Veterans, service members, and their surviving spouses to buy a home or refinance a loan. It offers benefits and services to help build, improve, or keep their current home.
How do I qualify for HUD-Vash?
Eligible HUD-VASH families must be homeless veterans as determined by the VAMC.
Unlike the earlier HUD-VASH program, veterans are not required to be chronically mentally ill or have chronic substance abuse disorders.
In addition, I’ve learned a detailed eligibility and criteria to be eligible for the program.
Veterans must meet the McKinney Act definition of homelessness to be eligible for the program.
Veterans who are appropriate for this program must be VA health care eligible Veterans.
Long Beach VA Medical center makes this determination.
All regulatory requirements for Housing Choice Vouchers apply to HUD-VASH.
OCHA will not have authority to maintain a waiting list or apply local preferences for HUD-VASH Housing Vouchers.
Veterans must need case management services in order to obtain and sustain independent community housing.
Eligible candidates are expected to participate in case management and utilize the support services, treatment recommendations and assistance needed to successfully maintain recovery and sustain housing in the community.
Case management is a requirement for participation in the HUD-VASH voucher program.
Hope the information presented gave you a better grasp of the HUD-VASH program, I know I sure was enlightened.