VA Proposes Rule to Prioritize Assistance for Low Income Veteran Families

May 13, 2014    

ISSUES  |  POLICY  |  SOLUTIONS  |  NEWS & EVENTS Forward Editor: Emanuel Cavallaro

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VA Proposes Rule to Prioritize Assistance for Low Income Veteran Families

The Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing a new rule that would require that grantees under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program provide permanent housing assistance to eligible veteran families who would likely become homeless without it. The proposed rule would expand grantees' authority to provide certain services to extremely low-income veteran families as well as clarify which services are not permissible uses of SSVF funds. The deadline to submit comments on the proposed rule is June 23.

The spending bill includes $40.3 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, $769 million less than the FY 2014 enacted level and $2 billion below the amount requested in the President's Budget Proposal. The bill includes the following funding provisions:
  • $2.105 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants Program, representing flat funding from the enacted 2014 level and $300 million below the President's Budget Proposal;
  • $19.357 billion for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program's Tenant Based Rental Assistance account, a $180 million increase over the enacted 2014 level, but $688 million below the President's Budget Proposal;
    • The Section 8 allocation includes a $328 million increase in voucher contract renewals; however, analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' explains that this is unlikely to be sufficient funding to continue funding all vouchers that were funded in 2014.
    • The Section 8 allocation again this year includes $75 million for about 10,000 new joint Departments of HUD and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers, meeting the amount requested by the President in his Budget Proposal;
  • $6.175 billion for public housing, a $100 million decrease from enacted 2014 levels and $350 million below the President's Budget Proposal;
  • $3 billion for the Community Development Block Grants, a $30 million decrease from enacted FY 2014 levels and $200 million below the President's Budget Proposal; and
  • $700 million for HOME, a $300 million decrease from enacted FY 2014 levels and $250 million below the President's Budget Proposal.
The bill also makes cuts to other programs including the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids (HOPWA) and would be devastating for HUD programs serving people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. To view the press release from the hearing, please click here. To view the Subcommittee's draft text of the legislation, please click here. The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the bill as soon as next week. The Senate will likely determine its 302(b) allocations in the upcoming weeks, at which point Senate appropriations subcommittees will begin to mark up spending bills.
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing
On Wednesday, May 7, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) subcommittee held a hearing on the proposed FY 2015 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction. Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) asked each witness on the panel to touch on specific areas of the budget in their testimonies. As part of his testimony, Mark Greenberg, acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families, noted that the Administration's budget proposal includes funding for runaway and homeless youth and an investment for a study on the prevalence of youth homelessness and characteristics of homeless youth.
House Departs for Recess The House departed for recess when session adjourned on Friday, May 9. The chamber will return to session on Monday, May 19.

Providing housing to homeless veterans without requiring them to meet standards of abstinence or psychiatric stability or complete a treatment program is a cost-effective solution, according Housing First pilot program evaluation by the VA National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans. The study, which looked at about 700 homeless veterans served by 14 VA medical centers, found that 84 percent were still living in permanent housing after a year. It also showed that decreases in acute health care services led to significant reductions in health care costs, including a 32 percent reduction in total direct VA health care costs, and a 54 percent reduction in more intensive inpatient costs.

How Did We Achieve a 24 Percent Reduction in Veteran Homelessness?
By Martena Reed and Emanuel Cavallaro

In the midst of the Great Recession, an affordable housing crisis, and about 46.5 million people living in poverty, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness on a single night in January decreased by 24 percent. In this post we take a look at how this happened.
3 Criticisms of Rapid Re-housing that Sound Valid, but Aren't
By Stuart Campbell Naturally, some people who have worked in the homeless assistance field for years, relying on strategies they are more familiar with, might be skeptical about rapid re-housing. In this post, we go over three of the most common criticisms of rapid re-housing.