In 2009, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki launched his department’s five-year plan to end veteran homelessness. “Those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope,” said Secretary Shinseki when announcing the plan.1 The department funds several programs to support its mission, such as the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program, through which funds are awarded to community agencies that provide supportive housing or supportive services to homeless veterans. The program is intended to help homeless veterans not only achieve residential stability but also improve their skill levels. To be eligible for funding, local agencies must offer up to 24 months of supportive housing or establish service centers that offer case management, education, crisis intervention, counseling, and services targeted to specialized populations including homeless women veterans. In 2009, VA funded more than 400 community agencies that provided services to 17,008 veterans.2
The department aids low-income veteran families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Authorized in 2008, SSVF provides supportive services and short-term rental assistance to veteran families who earn less than 50 percent of the area median income and either reside in permanent housing or will do so within 90 days. The goal of the services is to improve these families’ housing stability and prevent a return to homelessness.3
The U.S. Department of Labor operates programs to tackle one of the root causes of veteran homelessness — lack of employment. The agency’s Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) offers funds to organizations that provide services — including outreach, job search assistance, and résumé and interview preparation — for homeless veterans. In 2010, the agency established another HVRP specifically for female veterans and veterans with children that includes childcare among its covered services. The program’s main goals are to help veterans obtain meaningful employment and develop a service delivery system to address the problems homeless veterans face. Between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010, nearly 60 percent of the 14,424 HVRP participants were placed into jobs.4
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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. 2009. “Secretary Shinseki Details Plan to End Homelessness for Veterans,” 3 November press release.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Grant and Per Diem Program.” (www.va.gov/homeless/gpd.asp). Accessed 26 March 2012; Libby Perl. 2012. “Veterans and Homelessness,” Congressional Research Service, 25; Wesley J. Kasprow, Timothy Cuerdon, Diane DiLello, Leslie Cavallaro, and Nicole Harelik. 2010. “Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Programs: Twenty-Third Annual Report,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Northeast Program Evaluation Center, Table 5-1, 193.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Patient Care Services and Office of Mental Health Services. 2010. “Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program Fact Sheet”; John Kuhn. “Supportive Services for Veteran Families.” Undated presentation for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration.
U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service. 2010. “Annual Report to Congress: Fiscal Year 2010,” 12.