Many vulnerable veterans are eligible for housing assistance programs. There are various programs available throughout the U.S. They help reduce homeless veteran populations by assisting service members to find permanent housing. These assistance programs are managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Both offer public and affordable housing options for low-income service members. In addition, several non-profit organizations work in tandem with HUD and the VA to provide permanent housing solutions for veterans.
Furthermore, many housing assistance programs and organizations are able to offer extra services to in addition to housing options. These services include assistance for veterans who suffer from mental health or substance abuse issues. The aim of these initiatives is to help at-risk veterans attain stability and build sustainable lives. Continue reading below to learn about the various housing assistance programs available to veterans and their families.
Government Housing Assistance
There is a network of government housing assistance benefits that service members can take advantage of. Some service a wide range of vulnerable populations while others aim to help veterans specifically. Veterans can receive assistance from either type of program and attain permanent housing.
Service members have several options for stable housing. One option is HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program. This program enables recipients to choose their housing. They can select rental units from either their public housing authority’s property portfolio or the private housing market. Veterans can choose any dwelling as long as it has been approved by HUD and meets certain program requirements. The HCV program allows recipients to afford rent through a housing voucher. This voucher permits them to only pay a certain amount of rent each month while their local PHA pays for the rest. Rent payments go directly towards the property’s owner, not HUD. In certain cases, beneficiaries may even be able to purchase a home under the housing voucher program.
Service members may be able to advantage of another HUD program that is targeted towards veterans. In partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH), HUD created the HUD-VASH program to provide housing and clinical assistance to service members. It is a national program with local agencies located throughout the country. Case workers help veterans get the help they need and build a sustainable life. These HUD-VASH representatives assist service members in finding appropriate housing and gaining access to health care. Oftentimes, applicants are placed on a waiting list as housing and clinical centers fill up quickly.
HUD-VASH examines several criteria to determine a veteran’s eligibility. First, service members must meet the definition of homeless as specified by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. They must also meet asset and income limit requirements set by their PHA. Once accepted, veterans must participate in supportive services that promote their health and wellbeing in order to maintain their benefits.
Another affordable housing option is public housing. Unlike rentals under the housing voucher program, public housing is owned and managed by the government. These types of dwelling are offered to eligible veterans at a reduced cost. Apartments, townhouses and single-family homes are all considered public housing. Through this program, recipients are only required to pay 10 to 30 percent of their monthly income towards rent.
Service members must meet several eligibility requirements before they can receive public housing assistance. Permission to participate is primarily established by income. Each state has different income requirements. However, recipients typically make 50 to 80 percent of an area’s median income. Other factors that are considered when determining public housing eligibility are:
- Citizenship status.
- Family size.
- Legal presence in the U.S.
When determining if an applicant meets application requirements, HUD case workers may ask for documentation to validate certain information. Often, representatives ask for items such as birth certificates and tax return documents. However, not all applicants will be requested to supply extra information.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families
Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) is another beneficial housing assistance program. It is government-funded and supports local organizations that assist service members and their families who are at risk of losing housing. In addition, SSVF can support homeless veterans to find suitable housing that meets their needs.
SSVF agencies are located nationwide. Case managers work with veterans individually. They contact local organizations that can help service members and their families find stable housing. However, before they can receive services, veterans must meet qualification criteria. Usually, they must provide proof of:
- Veteran status.
- Current housing status.
The SSV program has served more than 150,000 veterans. More than 80 percent of those members have found permanent housing. Evidently, there are beneficial programs available nationwide that target the needs of veterans and help resolve them.
Special Housing Adaption
A benefits service that that aims to provide assistance specifically to veterans is the Adaptive Housing Grants program. It serves to cater disabled service members. The program provides financial assistance to veterans who want to make home modifications that will enable them to live more independently. Disabled veterans receive funding in the form of a grant in order to purchase, build or change their homes to meet the needs.
There are two types of grants available in the program: Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) and Special Housing Adaptation (SHA). SAH provides funding for veterans to enable them to build a home that is specially adapted for their disability needs. On the other hand, SHA allows veterans to make adjustments to their current home and adapt it to their needs.
To qualify for the SAH program, veterans must meet certain criteria. They must:
- Own or plan to own a home.
- Have a service-related disability.
There are specific definitions for which disabilities qualify for the program but typically blindness, severe burns and loss of limbs meet the requirements. SHA grant requirements are slightly different than those for SAH. SAH grant applicants must:
- Be blind in both eyes with 20/200 visual acuity or less.
- Have sustained severe burns.
- Have respiratory injuries.
- Have lost limbs or the use of both hands.
Under both grant programs, veterans must plan to make their adapted home their permanent residency for an extended period of time. In addition, eligible veterans can request up to three grants per one fiscal year. Grant awards cannot exceed $16,000.