Glen Allen, Virginia - In one of my random adventures in the internet, I found this acronym, SSVF, which stands for Supportive Services for Veteran Families. Since we’ve been tackling topics relating to Veterans and the help they could receive recently, especially those who are homeless, I figured to add this into the bucket as well!
To begin today’s discussion, let’s first take a look at what it is and how it came to be, shall we?
According to my readings, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program was said to have been founded in 2011 by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the goal of rehousing homeless Veteran families as quickly as possible and preventing homelessness for those who are at danger of becoming homeless due to a housing problem.
It is also mentioned to be the first VA-administered homelessness prevention and quick rehousing program, as well as the first homeless program for Veterans with families with the beginning of its provision of targeted housing assistance and services being announced by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki on October 1, 2011 under the mandate “Opening Doors” that served as the goal that serves as part of the nation’s first plan to eradicate homelessness by the United Stated Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
Now that we’ve got that covered, how does SSVF actually work?
In housingmatters.urban.org, it was mentioned that,
“The program provides short-term assistance to stabilize veterans in housing—either before or quickly after they become homeless. SSVF leverages flexible spending for rent and financial assistance, case management, outreach, and benefits including health care, legal support, and transportation. Funding is channeled to community-based nonprofit organizations for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.”
What exactly do we mean by rapid re-housing you ask?
According to the DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES, it is defined as “an intervention designed to help individuals and families quickly exit homelessness and transition to permanent housing. Rapid re-housing assistance is offered without grantee required preconditions such as employment, income, absence of criminal record, or sobriety. Support services are tailored to the unique circumstances of each individual participant household to facilitate a rapid transition to permanent housing. The three core components of rapid re-housing are identifying housing, providing rent and move-in financial assistance, and offering case management and related services. While a rapid re-housing program must have all three core components, it is not required that a single entity provides all three services nor that a household utilize them all.”
In a more technical method of explaining, what happens in SSVF is that grants for supportive services will be available and granted to a small group of private non-profits and consumer cooperatives that will help Veteran families with extremely low incomes who are living in or transitioning to permanent housing. Grantees will then offer eligible Veteran families a variety of supporting programs geared to help them cope to encourage housing stability.
The services included in this program are as follows: outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and help in accessing and coordinating other public benefits.
Moving on, it’s time for us to tackle its goals and objectives!
To sum it up, it is said that the SSVF Program's purpose is to help extremely low-income Veteran families that are living in or transitioning to permanent housing achieve housing stability. However, down below is a list of more specific objectives by va.gov:
Community outreach and identification of those who are homeless or at imminent risk of homeless.
Rapidly re-house homeless Veteran families in safe, affordable permanent housing.
Resolve housing crises for those at imminent risk of homelessness.
Increase income of participants through employment and access to benefits, so they can maintain their housing once the immediate crisis has passed.
Help participants resolve barriers to housing placement and retention, addressing needs involving legal, health, transportation, child care, or other concerns that contribute to housing instability.
Now who is this program exactly for? Who are those that are eligible for this program?
Looking back to the guidelines set by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES, the following are the eligible participants:
To become a participant household under the SSVF Program, the following conditions must be met:
A member of a “Veteran family”: Either (a) a Veteran2; or (b) a member of a family in which the head of household, or the spouse of the head of household, is a Veteran. (Note: The head of household should be identified by the Veteran family.)
“Very low-income”: Household income does not exceed 50 percent of area median income. Unless VA announces otherwise in the NOFA, the median income for an area or community will be determined using the income limits most recently published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for programs under section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f), which can be found at: http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/il.html.
“Occupying Permanent Housing”: A very low-income Veteran family is considered to be “occupying permanent housing” if they fall into one of three categories:
(Category 1) Is residing in permanent housing and at risk of becoming literally homeless but for grantee’s assistance;
(Category 2) Is literally homeless, and at risk to remain in this situation but for grantee’s assistance, and scheduled to become a resident of permanent housing within 90 days pending the location or development of housing suitable for permanent housing; or
(Category 3) Is literally homeless after exiting permanent housing within the previous 90 days to seek other housing that is responsive to the very low-income Veteran family’s needs and preferences.
Meanwhile, here are the three categories of “occupying permanent housing” as well as the time restrictions related to each as provided in the same guideline:
Category of Occupying Permanent Housing
Category 1: If a very low-income Veteran family is residing in permanent housing and is at risk of becoming literally homeless but for the grantee’s assistance. Time Restriction: A grantee may continue to provide supportive services to a participant within Category 1 so long as the participant continues to meet the definition of Category 1.
Category 2: If a very low-income Veteran family is literally homeless, and at risk to remain in this situation but for the grantee’s assistance, and is scheduled to become a resident of permanent housing within 90 days pending the location or development of housing suitable for permanent housing. Time Restriction: A grantee may continue to provide supportive services to a participant within Category 2 so long as the participant continues to meet the definition of Category 2, even if the participant does not become a resident of permanent housing within the originally scheduled 90-day period.
Category 3: If a very low-income Veteran family is literally homeless after exiting permanent housing within the previous 90 days to seek other housing that is responsive to the very low-income Veteran family’s needs and preferences. Time Restriction: A grantee may continue to provide supportive services to a participant within Category 3 until the earlier of the following dates: 1. The participant commences receipt of other housing services adequate to meet the participant’s needs OR 2. 90 days from the date the participant exits permanent housing.
Now onto one of the questions that matter the most, does the program actually work?
For this, there are actually results compiled by va.gov that we can refer to!
“In FY 2014 the SSVF program awarded $507 million in grants allowing SSVF to expand from 319 community agencies to 383 community agencies that serves all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.
Through August 2014, SSVF assisted a total of 115,659 individuals exceeding the annual projection of 115,000 for all of FY 2014.
SSVF has created a significant impact on Veteran families with 25,526 children assisted so far in FY 2014.
Of 73,097 Veteran participants, 10,667, or 15 percent, are women. 7,826 Veteran participants are OEF/OIF/OND (11 percent of Veterans served).
2014, 81.4 percent of those discharged (54,392 of 66,792) from the SSVF program through August 2013 have obtained permanent housing including 24,532 formerly homeless and 30,142 at-risk participants. An additional 11 percent (7,394 participants) left the streets and are now in a temporary or held monthly technical assistance calls with all grantees, providing training on best and promising practices in rapid re-housing and prevention.”
Seeing such results, it can be said that these programs really do support out Veterans well and it’d be good if more improvements towards such will be done as time passes!