In 2009, a pledge was made by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and President Obama to end homelessness for all veterans by 2015. The VA is pushing to meet that goal a year sooner.
“As the president has said, ‘We’re not going to be satisfied until every veteran who has fought for America has a home in America.’ …We will end veteran homelessness in 2014,” Shinseki said in February to the Marine Corps League.
Six years ago there were 195,000 homeless veterans. Today there are 76,000.
For its 2012 budget, the VA is asking for $939 million to continue with the progress gained to end homelessness.
To get veterans off the streets, the VA must find homes for them and is looking for vacant buildings they can renovate into housing units if Congress allocates the funds needed to do so. The VA has identified 94 sites so far that could potentially provide 6,300 housing units.
The only other viable program available to homeless veterans is the Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher program that provides rental assistance for veterans getting help at VA medical centers and outreach clinics.
Budget dollars will also continue to improve VA health care and mental health programs that assist veterans.
“Homelessness is really a symptom and the end step in a long stage of deterioration,” said Deputy VA Secretary W. Scott Gould at the opening ceremonies for the 25th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic this March. “So we have invested a lot in improving access to the health care that prevents homelessness.”
He also calls the pledge to end homelessness a “big, bold goal” to “apply the resources, the planning and the leadership to make that happen.”
“Veteran homelessness is not solved by VA alone, but with our HUD [Dept. of Housing and Urban Development] in federal government, our state governments’ veterans administrations and nongovernmental organizations and local governments. It is everyone working together.”
Will Congress work together to approve funds requested to end what defense leaders call the “scourge on America?” That’s the question only Congress can answer.
Source: American Forces Press Service
Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.