GIVE HOUSING A VOICE: TOOLKIT FOR VETERANS

 

Overview: Veterans should never return to find that they are not able have their own homes, after they have risked their lives to protect ours.  For their service and sacrifice, it is important that we ensure our Veterans have access to safe, affordable, and secure housing.   However, finding affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges for veterans adjusting to civilian life.  With the increasing number of returning Veterans in need of housing, communities need to develop ways to help Veterans obtain access to the resources and support they deserve.

Talking Points on Supportive Housing for Veterans

Homeless Veterans

Veterans are more at risk for becoming homeless than any other demographic due to poverty, lack of support networks and inadequate living conditions.  The number of homeless Veterans across America increased in 2017 for the first time in seven years, when government officials began their nationwide push to help impoverished former service members.  The annual point-in-time count from Housing and Urban Development officials found roughly 40,000 homeless Veterans.  Public housing authorities do provide some assistance through vouchers, and by connecting Veterans to support services such as health care, mental health treatment and substance use counseling to help them in their recovery process and with maintaining housing in the community.  

At-Risk Veterans

In addition to homeless Veterans, about 1.5 million Veterans are considered at-risk of homelessness.  At risk is defined as being below the poverty level and paying more than 50% of household income on rent.  Displaced and at-risk Veterans are in need of supportive housing as they live day-to-day with physical disabilities, mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.  Research shows that the greatest risk factors for homelessness are lack of support and social isolation after discharge.   Returning Veterans are not the only population of Veterans that are in need, many Veterans of earlier conflicts are also homeless, at-risk, or disabled, in need of supportive housing programs and assistance.  Social networks are particularly important for Veterans who are in crisis housing situations or need temporary help.  Without this assistance, Veterans are at high risk for homelessness.

Strategies

1) Share your own story.  Talking from your own personal experience is powerful.

2) Educate the public about what can be done to help the housing needs of our Veterans.  Create a space for discussion; help to identify solutions in creating supportive homes for Veterans.

3) Market the proposal in a more attractive manner and develop new policy responses.  Present a case for supportive housing for Veterans that proves its value to the individual as well as the community.  

Resources

Affordable Housing for Veterans (Mercy Housing)

Homeless Veterans  (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Homeless/Low-Income Veteran Support (Soldiers’ Angels)

HUD’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Program (HUD)

Mental Health America: Housing (MHA)

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV)

State and Local Veterans Service Agencies and Returning Veterans in New York (The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz)

Veterans Affordable Housing Program (VeteransAffordableHousing.org)

Veteran Homelessness Facts (Greendoors)

Veterans Housing Programs (Housing Benefits 101)

“Veterans” Success Stories

Is a Veteran you know in need of supportive housing?

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) provides extensive resources and support for Veterans through community partners and directly to Veterans facing homelessness.

The Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program funds community-based agencies by providing transitional housing or service centers for homeless Veterans.  Every year through the program, VA offers grants that may fund up to 65% of the project for the construction, acquisition or renovation of facilities, and/or provide transportation for outreach and services to homeless Veterans.

VA’s Acquired Property Sales for Homeless Providers Program makes all the properties VA obtains through foreclosures on VA-insured mortgages available for sale to homeless provider organizations to shelter homeless Veterans.  The mortgages are offered at a discount of 20 to 50%, based on how long the property has been listed for sale.

VA has comprehensive programs to prevent and eliminate Veteran homelessness.  Contact VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET.  You will reach a trained VA responder who can connect you with the resources VA offers through these and many other programs.

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