This is an update on the recently funded Section 8 vocuhers for homeless veterans that was prepared by NAEH. We underscore their recommendation that homelessness providers and advocates are encouraging their local supportive housing providers, VA centers, and PHAs to begin working together to ensure that the program is implemented efficiently and effectively. This needs to be a priority if New Jersey is to receive a fair share of these crucial vouchers for homeless veterans. If you are interested in working on this issue send us an email.
When the FY 2008 appropriations bills were enacted at the end of 2007, there were several new provisions related to housing and homelessness. One was the inclusion of new vouchers for homeless veterans with special needs. The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers are among the first new Section 8 vouchers in several years. There are currently approximately 1,800 HUD-VASH vouchers in use around the country. The appropriation would add 8,000 – 10,000 to that total.
The process for allocating vouchers has not been finalized. Once they are allocated, Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) will have to work with VA medical centers to distribute and use the vouchers. The voucher will provide the rent subsidy, and the VA centers will provide the supportive services. In the past, homeless veterans were eligible if they had any discharge status except dishonorable, and had to have a serious psychiatric or substance abuse disorder; eligibility criteria may, however, be subject to change by HUD and VA.
Federal officials are working to distribute vouchers soon. Because the HUD-VASH program is relatively small, and most VA centers do not currently participate, homelessness providers and advocates are encouraging their local supportive housing providers, VA centers, and PHAs to begin working together to ensure that the program is implemented efficiently and effectively.