By Debbie Gregory.
In 2013, the VA designated $300 million to be used as grants for non-profit organizations and its Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. With the money, the VA says that over 39,000 Veterans and 23,000 family members were helped.
On January 14, the VA announced that it would commit another $300 million to SSVF grants and non-profits for each of the next two years. This combined $600 million will be used in support of the VA’s very public pledge to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
The VA’s SSVF program is intended to assist Veterans and Veteran families who are either homeless or at “imminent risk” of becoming homeless. The SSVF program utilizes a “housing first” principle, where homeless Vets are provided permanent housing first and then provided other benefits, including VA healthcare and employment services.
Most recipients of the SSVF program’s grants are not homeless Veterans, but Veteran families who would most likely end up homeless without intervention and aid. Aside from monetary help, Veterans receive case management services and help seeking other assistance through the VA. These other areas of assistance may include healthcare services, financial planning services, housing counseling services, legal services, childcare and transportation services.
Through VA programs like SSVF and their partnerships with local non-profit organizations, Veteran homelessness saw an 8% decline in 2013 from the previous year. And homelessness among Veterans is down 24% since 2010. Due to the program’s success, it was easy for VA officials to approve the continuation of SSVF.
In a January 14th press release, VA officials publicly announced the commitment of the money through FY2015, in order to provide continuity for the larger homeless effort. Secretary of the VA Eric K. Shinseki summed up the purpose of the program, and why it is vital and necessary.
“Those who have served our nation should never find themselves on the streets, living without hope,” Shinseki said. “These grants play a critical role in addressing Veteran homelessness by assisting our vital partners, at the local level, in their efforts. We are making good progress towards our goal to end Veterans’ homelessness, but we still have work to do.”