***VIDEO FILE INCLUDED*** Rep. Susie Lee Examines HUD-VASH Program, Veterans’ Housing Needs
Washington, D.C. – Member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.-03) examined yesterday how to improve access to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) in urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities, and to better understand the housing needs of veterans in communities of all sizes throughout the country.
Rep. Lee highlighted a southern Nevada veterans organization, Veterans Village, and the unique challenges and limitations they face in providing affordable housing and meals to homeless veterans. Specifically, the HUD-VASH guidelines require each affordable housing unit has a full kitchen, something Veterans Village believes is unrealistic and unnecessary:
“I spoke with Arnold Stalk who runs an organization called Veterans Village in Nevada. It provides housing and wrap-around services to homeless veterans.
“One of the issues that was raised is that during the housing inspection on part of the VA, landlords are required to have a full kitchen in order to receive the HUD-VASH voucher. It’s been an issue for this organization in particular in reaching its mission because not all of its units have full kitchens. They have a hot plate and a microwave in each unit. But they have a full kitchen on-site, as well as a program where they work with restaurants and the local food bank, and they provide nutritious USDA-sanctioned meals every day.
“Because of this requirement, he houses more non-veterans, which then takes away from his ability to meet his mission.
“Is having a full kitchen [in every housing unit] necessary in helping prevent veteran homelessness?”
Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary, R. Hunter Kurtz, indicated that this was not an issue HUD has heard of before, but is something worth considering:
“This is not actually something I’ve heard, but I’m happy to take a look at that as we continue this effort.”
BACKGROUND: The HUD-VASH program is targeted at a specific set of the homeless population. Veterans who are appropriate candidates for this program demonstrate the most need or vulnerability and must need case management services in order to obtain and sustain independent community housing. HUD-VASH targets the chronically homeless Veteran who is the most vulnerable and often has severe mental or physical health problems and/or substance use disorders, with frequent emergency room visits, multiple treatment attempts, and limited access to other social supports. However, other Veterans who are homeless with diminished functional capacity and resultant need for case management are also eligible for the program.