VA announces grants available for groups that support veterans

by Ron Seman Published:

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the availability of up to approximately $600 million in grants for non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that serve very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.

"Those who have served our Nation should never find themselves on the streets, living without hope," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "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."

The SSVF program is designed to assist very low-income veteran families who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. The program employs a housing first model, an approach which centers on providing homeless veterans with permanent housing quickly and then providing VA health care, benefits and services as needed.

Required services include outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and providing or coordinating efforts to obtain needed entitlements and other community services. Grantees secure a broad range of other services for participants, including legal assistance, credit counseling; housing counseling; assisting participants in understanding leases, securing utilities, and coordinating moving arrangements; providing representative payee services concerning rent and utilities when needed; and serving as an advocate for the veteran when mediating with property owners on issues related to locating or retaining housing. Grantees also offer temporary financial assistance that provides short-term assistance with rent, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, child care, transportation, utility costs, and emergency expenses.

VA announced the availability of funds on Jan. 14 through a Notice of Funding Availability via the Federal Register. VA is offering $300 million in funds during fiscal year 2014 and $300 million in 2015, subject to available appropriations. VA will make award decisions based on a national competition.

In November, VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the results of the 2013 Points-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, which was prepared by HUD. The report estimated there were 57,849 homeless veterans on a single night in January in the United States, an eight percent decline since 2012 and a 24 percent decline since 2010.

The SSVF program is authorized by 38 U.S.C. 2044. VA implements the program by regulations in 38 CFC part 62. More information about the program can be found at www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.

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