Flexible Assistance for Homeless Veterans - VA Homeless Programs
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VA Homeless Programs


Flexible Assistance for Homeless Veterans

Section 4201(a) of the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 (PL 116-315) authorized the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to use appropriated funds for life-saving food, shelter, goods, and services for homeless Veterans or those participating in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program during the Coronavirus pandemic public health emergencies. In December 2021, VA sent a total of $20 million in American Rescue Plan funds to VA Medical Centers across the country to maximize the number of Veterans assisted under this authority.

By providing essential food, shelter, goods, and services, the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Act of 2020 aimed to minimize the risk of harmful outcomes to Veterans such as loss of housing or continuation of homelessness, hunger, hypothermia, poor hygiene, unemployment, missed health care and service appointments, social isolation, exacerbation of physical and mental health symptoms, or contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Examples of eligible expenditures included (but were not limited to):

  • Food (meals, groceries, meal delivery services)
  • Personal items (clothing, blankets, personal protective equipment, hygiene items)
  • Household goods (apartment start-up kits, small household appliances, furniture, cookware, cleaning supplies)
  • Shelter (hotel/motel vouchers, rental deposits, rental payments, utilities, childcare, application and document fees, pet fees, laundry vouchers, mobile housing units, legal fees related to maintaining housing)
  • Transportation (taxi vouchers, public transportation vouchers, rideshare vouchers, chartered transportation services)
  • Communications equipment and services (smartphones, disposable phones, tablets, service plans, Wi-Fi utility payments, cell phone boosters)

For this time-limited authority, VA Medical Centers were required to promote equitable access to these life-saving resources. This meant ensuring funding is made available to historically underserved Veterans, including women, racial and ethnic minority Veterans and those in rural areas and on tribal lands.

UPDATE: Read more about how the expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023 impacted this authority

Impact to Date

From May 2021 through the end of the Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023, VA Medical Centers across the United States directly helped over 69,300 Veterans using nearly $13.1 million in funding through the expanded flexibilities authorized by the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, MD Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act. VA Medical Centers purchased groceries, meals, apartment start-up kits, furniture, Goodwill merchandise vouchers, and laundry vouchers for Veterans experiencing homelessness.

In addition, this guidance allowed for the creation of a nationally coordinated rideshare program, which provided support to Veterans who need transportation to meet health, housing, legal, and employment needs. As of the end of the Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023 this service provided nearly 494,000 rides to over 44,000 Veterans at a value of over $16 million.

Check out these stories of Veterans who have benefited from Section 4201(a) on VA News:

Next Steps

Veterans experiencing homelessness should visit their local VA Medical Center for assistance and to take advantage of the support made possible by this authorization. These life-saving services are available to eligible Veterans who are homeless or those participating in the HUD-VASH program. To find a VA Medical Center near you, visit www.va.gov/find-locations. For immediate assistance, contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838).