Funding Shifts: Destabilizing Vets in Transitional Housing

Operation Homeless Veterans Helps Keep Vets off the Street


Contact: Destiny Drake

          Falls Church, Virginia – In the wake of a public outcry by anti-homelessness advocates over proposed budget cuts for veterans’ transitional housing facilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reversed its decision, but only temporarily. Rather than terminating funding immediately, some facilities have received a one-year extension for financial assistance. Then, each transitional facility must compete for grants that promote programmatic outcomes around permanent housing.

          In cities like California and Florida, where there is a high-cost, low-supply of available housing, securing units for homeless veterans is increasingly more difficult. As a result, the VA made changes to its Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program.  Now, providers are incentivized for implementing the Transition in Place (TIP) model. TIP programs promote permanent housing over brick and mortar transitional housing facilities. It gives veterans an opportunity to receive in-home services for a period of up to two years. Then, it transitions the supportive services out of the home, rather than the veteran.

          While the TIP model offers long-term benefits that are ideal to ending homelessness, the process of shifting from the former transitional housing model creates a gap in housing and social services. The most vulnerable veterans are those who are high-risk for drug abuse, mental illness, and incarceration. No matter the brevity, when veterans are transferred to city shelters or the street while awaiting permanent housing, their overall stability is jeopardized. 

          To help close the gap in services created by transitional housing facility closures, the Center for American Homeless Veterans (CAHV) has introduced an initiative, Operation: Homeless Vets, that facilitates targeted educational outreach to transitional housing facilities serving veterans. The objective is to strengthen fundraising efforts that support operational costs and combats facility closure. CAHV has developed a comprehensive how-to guide on increasing online donor contributions.

          “We are taking proactive measures to stem the loss of funding to transitional housing facilities,” says MAJ Brian Hampton (USAR Ret). “It’s unfathomable that the VA and by extension, the White House and Congress would allow our progress on homelessness to melt away due to short sighted budget cuts.”

          According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 26,404 homeless veterans (two thirds) depend on transitional housing programs and other emergency shelter facilities. The other 33% of veterans reside in places like parks, streets, abandoned buildings, and cars.

          Under the Obama administration, there was a downward trend of homelessness among veterans resulting in a 47% overall decrease. Now, transitional housing facilities that played critical roles in reducing homelessness are losing much needed support and have been forced to close. Facilities like Project SOAR, Safe Harbor and Volunteers of America in Cleveland are a few examples of recent closures that have resulted in the displacement of homeless residents.

          Other transitional housing facilities, like the Wisconsin Veteran Housing and Recovery Program (VHRP), are facing potential federal funding cuts that could lead to closure, as well. A representative from the facility stated that VHRP was granted a funding extension that offers a temporary relief from the issue through September 2018. However, after twenty years of receiving funding from the VA, the agency will now be required to apply for grants to cover operational costs for its sites located at King and Union Grove.

          More must be done in Congress to put protections in place that will ensure that no man or woman who has fought for our country goes without an honorable place to call home. CAHV’s Operation Homeless Veterans initiative is only one of the many ways to support our heroes. Contact your representative today to demand more federal support for transitional facilities that house homeless veterans. Together, we can make it happen for our heroes.

Since 1993, The Center for American Homeless Veterans has harnessed the power of the media to rally public support on behalf of American Veterans. CAHV has sponsored 196 programs and forums, with well over 100 Members of Congress speaking at its events. The Center for American Homeless Veterans has supported local homeless veteran transitional facilities by organizing and conducting programs for public support in their local areas, as well as through earned media. 

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