Boston MA — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is in the final year of a five-year initiative to end veteran homelessness. Earlier this year, the VA approached HPN and asked if our members could help in this effort. Since the VA issued its plan in 2010, homelessness among veterans is down by 33 percent. That means that on a given night in January 2014, there were nearly 25,000 fewer veterans living outside or moving from one temporary location to the next. But there is still more work to do.
In April, seven HPN members took a pledge on MemberExchange to provide housing for homeless veterans and reported on their activity in this area. Many other members are providing housing to veterans as well. We invite you to sign into MemberExchange to share what youre doing with your peers. So far, HPN members have shared the following updates:
- Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont is working with the VA to house veterans with HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers. They have one existing building that is occupied by veterans at turnover. They also recently opened a new property with four units designated for veterans. They are continuing to expand their work with the VA to house more veterans.
- Chicago-based Heartland Housing has a commitment of 20+ HUD-VASH vouchers for their new 60-unit supportive housing development in Madison, Wisconsin. Construction is expected to begin in May. They have also contacted the Chicago Housing Authority, as Heartland is hoping to add HUD-VASH vouchers at some of their existing Chicago-area developments.
- Hispanic Housing Development Corporation (HHDC) in Chicago is breaking ground on the 65th Infantry Regiment "Borinqueneers" Veterans development as a new permanent supportive rental housing building for veterans. The 50-unit development will be built on land donated by Norwegian American Hospital. Low-income veterans will be able to live in an environmentally-sustainable project with on-site access to mental health services, employment training, and education programming. The project is partly financed by HPN member IFF.
- The Housing Partnership, Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky has specialized financing available for veterans interested in homeownership, as well as partnerships with their PHA and VA office for the use of HUD-VASH.
- Philadelphias Project HOME has veteran-specific housing at their St. Elizabeths Recovery Residence. Thanks to the VA, they have twelve Grant Per Diem (GPD) funded units that offer housing for men who are experiencing homelessness and who have a primary substance use disorder diagnosis. Project HOME also prioritizes homeless veterans and other special populations in the rest of their housing portfolio. In 2014, they served 92 veterans in residential housing programs, with several individuals in their affordable units using HUD-VASH vouchers. Additionally, Project HOME is the lead agency in the Philadelphia Alliance for Supportive Services for Veteran Families (PASSVF), which includes two other providers: Veterans Multi-Service Center and Impact Services. In FY 2014, PASSVF served 548 families, including 432 veteran families who had not been previously served. Project HOME also has two projects in development that will give priority to homeless veterans (182 units in total, with 138 PHA vouchers). One property will open in January 2016; the other is expected to be completed in 2017.
- REACH Community Development, Inc. in Portland, Oregon is in discussion with the local housing authority in Portland to use project-based HUD-VASH vouchers over the next twelve months. They currently estimate that 15-25 units will be produced in the coming year. Longer term, they are exploring a new development that could support larger numbers of formerly homeless veterans.
- Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development (Madison, Wisconsin) is starting a rental program in Janesville with the option to use these units for veterans in need of housing. They will have two units available in the next month, and will have twelve by the end of the year.