Feds assist C. Oregon homeless veterans

HUD, VA provide vouchers, grant funding

REDMOND, Ore. - Housing Works, the leading affordable housing provider serving the tri-county Central Oregon region, said Friday it has secured an additional 15 federally funded vouchers to aid homeless veterans obtain quality housing.

"These vouchers will improve lives in the most fundamental way – providing safe, clean, permanent, affordable housing for homeless veterans," said Kenny LaPoint, Housing & Resident Services Director for Housing Works.

"Often these vouchers assist entire families. Veterans have given us so much through their service and it's an honor to be able to return the favor. We want these servicemen and women and their dependents to recover the dignity of having a place to call home."

The VASH vouchers, which can be redeemed on a monthly basis for rent by those who qualify, are funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by Housing Works.

Housing Works has a long record of success in advocating for state and federal legislative action to address rural Oregon's housing needs.

In 2011 and 2012, collaboration between Housing Works, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach and Rep. Greg Walden resulted in the awarding of 50 VASH Vouchers for Central Oregon, for example.

The successful implementation of the first round of VASH Vouchers resulted in an additional 10 Vouchers for Central Oregon in 2012.

LaPoint estimates that these vouchers will help more than 200 individuals gain homes and get off the streets. He attributes the awarding of the additional vouchers to the effective collaboration that the region's social service organizations have established over the years.

Said LaPoint, "Housing Works, working with the Veterans Administration, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, ICON City, and private donors, was also able to provide move-in assistance and household furnishings to help meet some basic needs for veterans entering the housing program."

Meanwhile, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced Thursdsay the award of more than $3 million in homeless prevention grants to several Oregon and southwest Washington counties.

The grants will serve approximately 670 homeless and at-risk Veteran families as part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.  

In the Portland VA Medical Center service area, these grants will serve Veterans and their families associated with five of the total 319 community agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

These agencies include: St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County located in Eugene, Community Action Team out of St. Helens, Easter Seals of Oregon in Portland, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach in Bend (which is receiving $300,000), and Transition Projects in Portland.

"With these grants, we are strengthening our partnership with community non-profits across the country to provide Veterans and their families with hope, a home, and a future," said Shinseki.  "The work of Supportive Services for Veteran Families program grantees has already helped us prevent and end homelessness among tens of thousands of homeless Veterans and their families, but as long as a single Veteran lives on our streets, we have work to do."

Under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, VA is awarding grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that provide services to very low-income Veteran families living in -- or transitioning to -- permanent housing.  

Those community organizations provide a range of services that promote housing stability among eligible very low income veteran families.

Thanks to the SSVF grants, those community organizations will provide a range of services that promote housing stability and play a key role in connecting Veterans and their family members to VA services such as mental health care and other benefits.

Community-based groups can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of Veterans for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.

This is the program's third year.  Last year, VA provided about $100 million to assist approximately 50,000 Veterans and family members.

In 2009, President Obama and Secretary Shinseki announced the federal government's goal to end Veteran homelessness in 2015. The grants are intended to help accomplish that goal.  According to the 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, homelessness among Veterans has declined 17.2 percent since 2009.

Through the homeless Veterans initiative, VA committed over $1 billion in fiscal year 2013 to strengthen programs that prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. VA provides a range of services to homeless Veterans, including health care, housing, job training, and education.

More information about VA's homeless programs is available at  Details about the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program are online at Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and their family members and friends can call VA's National Homeless Veterans Call Center at 1-877-4AID-VET.

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