VA Homeless FAQs
Ending Veteran homelessness is a top national priority for VA. In collaboration with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Labor, and other federal, state, local, and nonprofit partners, VA has undertaken an unprecedented campaign to make sure every Veteran has permanent housing. This campaign has led to great progress; according to results of the annual Point-in-Time Count, homelessness among Veterans decreased by nearly 50 percent between 2010 and 2018. In addition, three states and more than 70 local areas have effectively ended homelessness among Veterans. Lastly, since 2010, more than 700,000 Veterans and their families have been permanently housed or prevented from becoming homeless.
Most people with acceptable options for permanent housing do not choose homelessness. Persuading some Veterans to move from the streets into housing takes time and persistent engagement by caring, trained professionals. Outreach workers across the country already know many of these Veterans and work to earn their trust. Thanks to their efforts and best practice approaches such as Housing First, the number of unsheltered Veterans is diminishing. Not every community will achieve the goal of ending Veteran homelessness at the same time, but we’re not going to rest until every Veteran has a place to call home.
Even after we have ended homelessness among Veterans, some of them may experience a housing crisis and face the possibility of homelessness. We can prevent homelessness among Veterans by identifying those most at risk and quickly connecting them with programs that provide temporary financial assistance and access to housing solutions, health care, employment assistance, and other supportive services that can help them avoid homelessness.
Through research and testing, VA has compiled a set of questions to ask Veterans to determine whether they are at risk of becoming homeless. VA medical center (VAMC) personnel ask these questions during their initial interaction with each Veteran. If the responses indicate potential risk factors, the Veteran is referred for appropriate services and assistance. Similarly, grantees of VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) use an evidence-based screening tool to identify high-risk Veteran families based on local conditions. A centralized, coordinated assessment now being rolled out in Continuum of Care (CoC) programs across the country considers the unique needs of homeless and at-risk Veterans and their households to match them to the most appropriate housing and services.
VA will continue to provide a variety of services through these programs, including physical and mental health care; intensive case management; and referrals to other social supports, such as legal, housing, and benefits assistance and employment services. All these services promote residential stability and help Veterans increase their skill levels and income and develop greater self-determination on their path to permanent housing. Community-based organizations funded by the CoC Program will also continue to provide shelter, transitional housing, and supportive services.
No, but it will be a major triumph. Ending unsheltered homelessness is a moral imperative: Life on the streets puts Veterans’ health at risk and can lead to premature death. The day when no Veteran is living on the street will be a historic milestone in our service to Veterans, and we will celebrate that success as an important achievement.
A sufficient supply of affordable and permanent supportive housing is necessary to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. The prevalence of Veteran homelessness in communities with high rental costs suggests that there is not a sufficient supply of affordable housing in every community. Sufficient supply can be achieved only with full funding of VA’s programs at the requested levels and with the development of additional housing stock through the CoC Program, low-income housing tax credits, project-based vouchers through the HUD-VASH program, VA’s Enhanced-Use Lease Program, the funding of the National Housing Trust Fund, and local housing initiatives.
Progress to date demonstrates that when new resources are invested in proven solutions, and when existing programs adopt best practices, ending Veteran homelessness is possible.
CoCs must serve all people experiencing homelessness, including Veterans ineligible for VA homeless programs and services. Both VA and HUD encourage communities to make connections at the local level between CoCs and VA medical centers to identify and connect Veterans with housing and services offered by CoC-funded providers. Other federal agencies are involved, too, including the U.S. Department of Labor, which funds programs to connect Veterans with employment.
Accessing VA Services
Anyone can help connect a Veteran who is homeless or at risk of homelessness with VA care. If a Veteran you know is homeless, at imminent risk of becoming homeless, or in crisis, make the call to 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838) or chat online at va.gov/homeless.
Make the call to 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838) or chat online at va.gov/homeless. Trained, supportive professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to connect Veterans with the care they need to get back on their feet.
Eligibility guidelines vary across programs. To learn more about a specific program, visit the VA Programs for Homeless Veterans page.
Partnering With VA
If you have a space you’d like to rent to a Veteran, consider participating in the HUD-VA Supportive Housing program — which has helped tens of thousands of Veterans and their families overcome the challenges of homelessness and lead independent lives. To learn about the benefits and steps to get started, check out our landlord fact sheet.
VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program (GPD) awards grants to community-based agencies to create transitional housing programs and offer per diem payments to Veterans. The purpose is to promote the development and provision of supportive housing and services to help homeless Veterans achieve residential stability, increase their skill levels and income, and develop greater self-determination. You can read more on the GPD page.
VA has allocated unprecedented resources to ending Veteran homelessness, but we can’t do it alone. First responders, community service providers, faith groups, and Veterans service organizations provide a critical link between Veterans and the resources they may need to secure safe, stable housing. VA can connect the Veterans you encounter every day with a variety of services to get them back on their feet. Individuals can also help by spreading the word through personal networks, handing out materials, or supporting a “Stand Down” event to offer food, clothing, and health screenings to local Veterans. To find downloadable and print-ready items to share, visit our Get Involved page.
Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) provides funding to local VA medical centers (VAMCs), which contract with community-based agencies to provide short-term residential treatment for Veterans in need of immediate housing while they look for permanent housing and additional care and services. Another aspect of HCHV is the Contract Residential Treatment program, which places Veterans with serious mental health diagnoses into quality, community-based supportive housing. Entities can learn more about providing these services to homeless Veterans by contacting their local VAMC and speaking with the HCHV liaison or homeless services coordinator.
To find additional information about VA’s many programs to end Veteran homelessness, check out the VA Homeless Veterans page. Additionally, you can stay up to date by reading the quarterly newsletter, webinars, and Facebook Live events hosted throughout the year.
The official blog of VA, VAntage Point, has several inspirational stories of formally homeless Veterans who were helped by VA. To read their stories, visit the VAntage Point website. You can also visit the Success Stories page to read news of interest in the initiative to end and prevent Veteran homelessness.
The word “homeless” can have a variety of meanings, such as an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. To learn more about the general definition of a homeless individual, read The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Since 2010, more than 700,000 Veterans and their family members have been permanently housed or prevented from becoming homeless as a result of programs offered by VA and its partners.