Vouchers and Housing First
Key in Progress To Date
President Obama has set the goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. While this is an ambitious and admirable goal, some experts who have worked with homeless veterans have expressed their concerns about the goal.
Steve Peck, President & CEO of U.S. Vets recently spoke to an audience in Chicago on the 40th anniversary of the fall of Vietnam. The Huffington Post’s Impact blog post “Veterans’ Homelessness –There is No Finish Line” highlights his edited remarks.
He used his experience as a Veterans Affairs (VA) Department outreach worker to inform his commentary on the reality of truly ending veterans homelessness.
“Emil was not on our schedule, he was on his own and came in when he was able. Sometimes this is what it takes and you can’t put a timetable on that.”
Writes Pack. Emil had mental illness and it took many tries to get him into VA housing.
In a recent CNN interview, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro gave credit for the 33% reduction in veteran homelessness in 2010 to HUD-VASH (Supportive Housing) vouchers and Housing First. With HUD-VASH said Castro:
“Veterans who are homeless can actually get a voucher and go into the private market to get somewhere to live” and Housing First is “Getting vets directly into housing instead of making them live in shelters or transitional living facilities.”
Castro’s remarks make the case for increased Housing Choice Voucher funding and homelessness assistance funding for Housing First and other proven initiatives. What works for homeless veterans can also work for the larger homeless population.
Peck is realistic about the challenges in ending veterans homelessness.
“So many vets who are homeless today, or on the verge of homelessness are not seeking us out due to pride or embarrassment, or the stigma associated with admitting mental illness. The complications that lead someone down the path toward homelessness are numerous, and sometimes misunderstood.
We are dealing with a societal issue that has been long in the making and putting a five- year time limit to fix this problem is unrealistic and sets up programmatic expectations that are unrealistic and potentially detrimental in the long run.”
Peck encourages us to keep working on ending homelessness. “We have to be prepared to work on this until it’s done. There is no finish line.”
Click here to read the full Impact blog post.
Click here for HUD Secretary Castro’s CNN interview.