Housing Roundtable FAQs - VA Homeless Programs
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Housing Roundtable FAQs

What is the lease up rate among homeless Veterans in the greater Los Angeles area who have Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers and how does that number compare with the entire state of California and the country?

At 78%, the HUD-VASH voucher lease up rate in Los Angeles is below the national average of 86%. Veterans in other parts of southern California, such as San Diego, who have HUD-VASH vouchers have similar lease up rates to Los Angeles, averaging roughly 75%.

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Do Veterans need to already be homeless or at-risk to receive HUD-VASH vouchers?

Veterans who are appropriate for this program must be VA health care eligible Veterans. Veterans must also meet the definition of homelessness defined in the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act as amended by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009. 

An individual who is at imminent risk of becoming homeless, 14 days or less from eviction, can also be eligible for HUD-VASH.

Veterans must need case management services in order to obtain and sustain independent community housing. Veterans who need case management services may have serious mental illness, substance use disorder history, or physical disability. Veterans with the most vulnerability are excellent candidates for this program.

Eligible Veterans are expected to participate in case management and utilize the supportive services to successfully maintain recovery and sustain housing in the community.

VA determines clinical eligibility for the program. The public housing authority (PHA) that issues the voucher, determines if the Veteran participant meets HUD’s regulations for this program. The PHA will determine eligibility based on income limits. Also, the PHA will determine if any member of the household is required to maintain Lifetime Sexual Offender Registry status – those who do are not eligible to participate in this program.

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How many applications for the new project-based HUD-VASH voucher funds have been submitted so far?

The count of applications will be available after the August 28, 2015, due date for submitting responses to the notice of funding availability from HUD.

What are the most common obstacles in getting landlords to rent to formerly homeless Veterans?

Misconceptions about homeless Veterans and HUD-VASH are the most common obstacles to getting landlords to rent to Veterans exiting homelessness. Unfortunately, many property managers are not aware that VA has trained professionals at every VA medical center to help Veterans successfully transition to permanent housing. The HUD-VASH staff work with Veterans in the community, including their homes, to help them successfully reintegrate to the community.

HUD-VASH benefits Veterans by providing them with subsidies to make permanent housing affordable. Landlords benefit because they are able to rent to tenants who are generally reliable payers and are also receiving supportive wrap around services, increasing the likelihood that they will be successful tenants.

When landlords are willing to give the HUD-VASH program a try, they find it can be incredibly rewarding as well as economically beneficial.

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Has the increase in the number of HUD-VASH vouchers affected the number of landlords renting to Veterans without vouchers?

There is a tightening of the rental housing market overall—lower vacancies and higher rents. There’s an affordability crisis in the rental housing market, and community agencies in some locations may be overwhelmed by a sudden influx of resources and attention. VA and HUD are working with those organizations to quickly ramp up their ability to get new resources out the door to the people who need them.

Is there a ceiling on the total rental subsidy provided to HUD-VASH vouchers recipients?

Yes, there is currently a fair market rent (FMR) in place, which is a locally determined amount that is the initial ceiling for a voucher. In areas where the rental market is tight, the public housing authority can apply to HUD for an increase in the FMR.

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Are HUD-VASH vouchers distributed proportionately based on the population of homeless Veterans in that area?

Every year since 2008, HUD and VA have awarded HUD-VASH vouchers based on geographic need and public housing agency (PHA) administrative performance. The allocation process for HUD-VASH vouchers is a collaborative approach that relies on three sets of data: HUD’s point-in-time data submitted by Continuums of Care (CoCs), VA medical center data on the number of contacts with homeless Veterans, and performance data from PHAs and VA medical centers. After determining which areas of the country have the highest number of homeless Veterans, the VA Central Office identifies VA facilities in the corresponding communities. HUD then selects PHAs near the identified VA facilities, taking into consideration the PHA’s administrative performance, and sends the PHAs invitations to apply for the vouchers.

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Are there enough HUD-VASH vouchers for everyone who needs them?

Today, on August 5, 2015, there are over 7,000 Veterans holding vouchers who are not yet housed; more than 10,000 vouchers are turned over each year based on Veterans graduating out of the program, voluntarily leaving, or exiting the program for other reasons. In addition, HUD has more than 10,000 more vouchers in its 2016 markup budget, so we believe we currently have enough resources to meet the demand; however, that could change in the future.

The strategy is not to provide a voucher to every homeless Veteran, but rather to make available vouchers to the most vulnerable Veterans who need ongoing supportive services and case management to successfully maintain their housing and reintegrate to the community.

Not every Veteran who becomes homeless will need a HUD-VASH voucher to exit homelessness. In fact, many Veterans who become homeless are able to exit homelessness with short-term assistance from programs such as the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) or no assistance at all.

Some Veterans may be better served by a different program such as the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) and Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans (DCHV) programs. VA is also continually reassessing Veterans to determine which programs are most appropriate to address their needs.

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