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How is VA Working to End Veteran Homelessness?

EUL Framework
Building 207, shown here during a ribbon cutting ceremony held in February 2023, is the second Enhanced Use Lease housing development to open on the West LA VA north campus, providing apartments for 59 previously homeless Veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is on a mission to end Veteran homelessness.

It is making great strides in this effort, helping to house 40,401 Veterans experiencing homelessness in 2022, with 1,301 of those Veterans finding a place to call home in the greater Los Angeles area, the most of any city in America.

The total number of Veterans experiencing homelessness nationwide has decreased by 11% since January 2020 and by 55.3% since 2010.

So how is this progress being accomplished?

VA has several tools at its disposal. One is to provide housing right on VA land through VA’s unique public-private partnership program called the Enhanced-Use Lease (EUL) program.

The EUL program allows VA to partner with private developers, leasing underutilized or vacant properties to development entities that finance, design, develop, construct, operate and maintain the property. The entities assume all financial obligations and risks associated with the development. These developers (lessees) utilize various sources of financing, including tax credits for low-income housing, grants, philanthropy, private and commercial loans, and public issue bonds.

Title 38, U.S.C. Section 8161-8169, Enhanced-Use Leases (EULs) of Real Property (as amended), authorizes VA to lease real property under VA’s control or jurisdiction to other public and private entities on a long-term basis (up to 99 years for most properties) for the provision of supportive housing or projects that directly or indirectly benefit Veterans. The majority of VA EUL projects serve to provide safe, affordable housing for Veterans and their families.

The EUL program serves as the backbone of the West LA Master Plan, a framework for transforming the West LA VA into a fully supportive and connected community of and for Veterans with a minimum of 1,200 housing units.

The first permanent supportive housing project at West LA VA, made possible by the EUL program, was Building 209, which opened in 2017 and provides 54 Veteran units.

Building 207, which opened in February 2023, offers 59 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless Veterans aged 62 and up.

“We are excited about this critical step forward, but there is still much work to be done. No Veteran should experience homelessness – in Los Angeles or anywhere else in America – and we won’t rest until every Veteran has a home in this country they fought to defend,” said Tanya Bradsher, VA Chief of Staff, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Building 207.

Two more permanent supportive housing developments in the EUL program, Buildings 205 and 208, with a combined 120 Veteran units, opened in May 2023.

More land is being cleared and made shovel ready. To expedite housing delivery, VA and its EUL partners are prioritizing new construction on vacant land for the next phase of Veteran supportive housing. The three latest pieces of land under lease in December 2022 will result in 264 Veteran units and are scheduled to open in late 2024. This means nearly 500 permanent supportive housing units on the West LA VA Campus in 2025, in addition to the hundreds of Veterans residing on the property in transitional housing, community living centers, and the CalVet State Home.

VA contributes to these Veteran housing construction efforts through investments in utility infrastructure, site preparation, abatement, and other pre-construction costs. In fiscal years 2021 and 2022, VA invested over $70 million for infrastructure and land preparation to support EUL housing at West LA. VA has plans to invest roughly $70 million more in 2023. Starting in FY2023, EUL-related projects at the West LA VA campus will be funded through Sec 705 of the PACT Act through 2036 with more than $350 million envisioned for use in supporting the housing development at West LA.

More Ways to Help Veterans

VA has a host of other programs to help Veterans who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of falling into homelessness. These include paying portions of a Veteran’s rent through a partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. The HUD-VASH voucher program combines rental housing assistance with active case management and support from VA staff.

There are two forms of vouchers: tenant-based and project-based.

With tenant-based vouchers, the local public housing authority issues an eligible Veteran a voucher and the Veteran selects an apartment of their choice. If the Veteran moves out of the unit, the contract with the apartment owner ends and the Veteran can move with continued assistance to another unit. Property owners are offered many incentives to participate in the program. Read more about those incentives HERE.

Under the project-based voucher program, a public housing authority enters into an assistance contract with the owner for specified units and for a specified term. The housing authority refers Veterans from its waiting list to the project owner to fill vacancies. Because the assistance is tied to the unit, a Veteran who moves from the project-based unit does not have any right to continued housing assistance.

VA also works to prevent low-income Veterans and their families from falling into homelessness through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. This program provides grants to local nonprofits that are experts in various fields that support those who are financially strapped. These organizations help Veterans apply for and receive benefits, fund move-in expenses, provide additional rental assistance that's offered through HUD-VASH, enroll Veterans in job training and education programs, provide subsidized childcare, and connect Veterans to free legal services.

There is also a rapid re-housing component of SSVF, placing Veterans into immediate transitional housing until something more permanent can be found.

As the needs of Veterans evolved, so has VA, adapting to better serve those who have served their country in our time of need. Given that Veteran homelessness is a significant concern and the need for more affordable housing is great, Congress and VA have taken significant steps to provide for Veterans.

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