PROVIDENCE, RI – Seeking to provide essential housing and support for homeless veterans, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced that Rhode Island will receive $173,742 in federal funding to provide housing assistance to homeless veterans.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) funding will provide 23 homeless veterans with permanent housing through the North Providence Housing Authority. These veterans will also receive supportive services through the Providence VA Medical Center.
“These veterans have experienced real hardships. Ensuring every veteran has access to safe, stable housing is a priority, and we are making real progress toward ending chronic homelessness for our veterans. The HUD-VASH program takes a comprehensive, coordinated approach to helping veterans in need. These federal funds will help our veterans find a safe place to live and get hands-on counseling and case-management so they can get healthy, and get back on their feet,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Ranking Member of the panel’s subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), which oversees HUD-VASH funding.
Reed helped secure $75 million for HUD-VASH vouchers as part of the THUD bill in fiscal year 2015 to assist homeless veterans nationwide, and ensured that Rhode Island would receive an allocation of vouchers. Since 2008, Rhode Island has received 211 HUD-VASH vouchers.
HUD-VASH is a collaborative program that combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and supportive services through the VA. Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program receive assistance to rent privately-owned housing. The housing vouchers allow veterans and their families to live in market-rate rental units while the VA provides case management services.
The HUD-VASH program is a key part of the Obama Administration’s five-year initiative to end veteran homelessness.
During a THUD hearing last month, Reed questioned HUD Secretary Julián Castro about his Department’s efforts to address veteran homelessness in Rhode Island, including efforts to find permanent housing for the estimated 108 homeless veterans across the state.
HUD, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released a joint report last fall showing a 33% decline (24,837 people) since 2010 in the national estimate of veteran homelessness in the United States. The estimate included a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of unsheltered veterans sleeping on the street.
The report estimates that in January 2014, there were nearly 50,000 veterans experiencing homelessness, including almost 5,000 women.
Senator Reed has been a strong supporter of housing assistance and homelessness prevention initiatives. In addition to his work on HUD-VASH, he also authored the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act that President Obama signed into law. The HEARTH Act reauthorized the landmark McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and simplified and consolidated three competitive HUD homelessness assistance programs into one program and allowed more funding to flow to communities that can demonstrate a commitment to accomplishing the goals of preventing and ending homelessness. For fiscal year 2015, the funding bill passed in December included $2.135 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program, a $30 million increase over FY 2014 funding.
Veterans who are homeless, or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, can call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline at: 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838). The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs founded the hotline to ensure that veterans in need have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. The hotline is intended to assist homeless veterans and their families, VA Medical Centers, federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers, and others in the community.