A popular VA homeless program that community groups say helps them keep tens of thousands of veterans off the street, including thousands who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has received a fresh infusion of $300 million.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it spread the $300 million among 301 community groups in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to help keep struggling veterans their families off the streets.
During its first two years of operation, 2012-2013, the program — known as Supportive Services for Veteran Families — helped nearly 100,000 veterans and their family members find temporary housing or meet expenses to stay in their homes. That included nearly 60,000 veterans, among whom were 37,209 who were homeless.
Last year, among the nearly 40,000 veterans assisted, along with 25,000 family members, were 6,610 former servicemembers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a VA research paper on the program. About one in six were women.
"This is a program that, indeed, makes a difference," newly installed VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a statement released Monday.
Homeless veteran advocates praise the flexibility of the program. The federal funding allows the organizations to cover management staffing expenses for their efforts and provide cash for meet such homeless-veteran needs as security deposits, utility costs, temporary rent assistance, job-search transportation, child care, moving expenses and more.
The program has grown from $60 million in 2012 for 85 community groups to $100 million in 2013 dispensed to 151 groups and $300 million this year.