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VA, HUD announce more vouchers to help homeless vets

SUN Columnist

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced the second round of HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) funding to local public housing agencies across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The $7.8 million will provide housing and clinical services for 1,120 currently homeless veterans. In May of this year, the two agencies announced $60 million in HUD-VASH vouchers.

The supportive housing assistance announced today is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA. Since 2008, a total of 58,140 vouchers have been awarded and 43,371 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes of their own because of HUD-VASH.

“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed and given up so much for our freedom,” said HUD Secretary Donovan. “These vouchers are helping America end veterans’ homelessness one veteran at a time until we see not one veteran living on the street. I look forward to continue working with Secretary Shinseki and the Department of Veterans Affairs to target assistance to our homeless veterans. ”

“These HUD-VASH vouchers are a vital tool in our effort to provide these brave men and women with the earned care and benefits that help them live productive, meaningful lives,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “So long as a single Veteran lives on our streets, we have work to do. But with the continued support of President Obama, Congress and our community partners, we will end homelessness among Veterans.”

HUD-VASH is a critical part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end Veteran and long-term chronic homelessness by 2015. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women. HUD’s annual “point in time” estimate of the number of homeless persons and families for 2012 found that veteran homelessness fell by 7.2 percent (or 4,876 people) since January 2011 and by 17.2 percent since January 2009. On a single night in January 2012, 62,619 veterans were homeless.

The grants are part of $75 million appropriated this year to support the housing needs of homeless veterans. Local public housing authorities provide rental assistance to homeless veterans while nearby VA Medical Centers (VAMC) offer supportive services and case management. This is the second round of the 2013 HUD-VASH funding. HUD expects to announce more HUD-VASH funding this year.

VAMCs work closely with homeless veterans then refer them to public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of the homelessness and the need for longer term more intensive support to obtain and maintain permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provides.

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately-owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.

Information

For further information on any VA Benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center, 451 Hot Springs Blvd.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office.

Meetings

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

American Legion Post 108: Second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa Street.

American Legion Post 108 Ladies Aux.: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Suites.

Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: Every other Monday at 6 p.m., St. Patrick Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

Point Man Ministries Breakfast for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd., Contact Vincent: (435) 618-0049 or Vfortunato777@gmail.com.

Contacts

Veterans for Veterans: 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

Farmington VA Center: (505) 327-9684.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.

Your Veterans Service Officer

The Veterans Service Officer acts on behalf of veterans, families of veterans, or other designated persons for a veteran’s interests, to assist with information and applications for the Department of Veteran Affairs benefits and services, in which may include the Department of Defense.

This office assists with all veteran-related matters in the community, including citizens interested in veterans information and assistance ensuring privacy of personal information.

This includes assisting in determining the best course of action to maximize any and all VA benefits a veteran, or veteran-related person, may be entitled to; determine appropriate application processes for VA benefits and claims; assist in the completion of applications and forms to apply for benefits, including medical, military service and all other information required.

This office further assists veterans with VA Health Care questions or claims, and general information which affects the local veteran population.

This story was posted on August 29, 2013.