, WV — COVID-19 and increased property values have created a housing inventory shortage in the regional area which Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center (HWW VAMC) covers for the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program.
The HUD-VASH program combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for Veterans experiencing homelessness with case management and clinical services provided by VA clinical employees. The combination of HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services assists Veterans and their families in finding and sustaining permanent housing.
The local program staff operates out of HWW VAMC’s Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) located at 624 9th Street in Huntington and they cover the VAMC’s catchment area of twelve counties in Kentucky, two counties in Ohio, and ten counties in West Virginia.
“Many of the landlords, especially in our Eastern Kentucky counties, are no longer renting units, or have sold their properties,” said Angela Miller, VA Homeless Program Coordinator. “COVID-19 has created significant delays and shortages in housing availability for our Veterans,” she continued. “Many of the public housing authority (PHA) offices were closed for much of the pandemic (or are still closed to the public). Alternative arrangements, generally electronic, were made to facilitate housing Veterans since the pandemic began.”
HWW VAMC HUD-VASH case managers have worked with the PHAs to develop protocols that allow them to still process the applications virtually, do unit inspections virtually, etcetera.
Ms. Miller said, “All of our Veterans have a case manager that is an advanced practice clinical social worker or a RN, who is equipped to manage many of the unresolved and/or recurring needs. VA staff support the process in person and are available to the Veteran in the office, in the home, telephone, or via VA Video Connect.
The prospective HUD-VASH landlord would have the assurance of ‘guaranteed’ payment from HUD each month and access to the funds may be paid directly to the landlord upon approval from HUD once a unit is selected by a Veteran and it passes the HUD-inspection.
The CRRC is also a pilot site for a Habitat for Humanity project in which HUD vouchers may be used toward home ownership. Habitat for Humanity utilizes the same poverty guidelines as HUD.
“We have developed programs for our Veterans experiencing homelessness which are being used across the country,” Ms. Miller stated. “Our homeless program was recognized for our conversion of the traditional summer “Stand Down” to the “Take the Stand Down to the Veteran” due to COVID-19. The initiative was identified as a VA national best practice and has been shared across the country with other VAs as a guide. We are honored to have been asked to lead our Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) for special housing programs due to our selection as a pilot site for both the Habitat for Humanity project and the Medical Foster Home/HUD-VASH collaboration. We also have the HUD-VASH VISN lead at our facility.”
What is the process to see if you qualify to be a part of this valuable program for our Veterans? Go on-line to: https://www.hud.gov/ or https://www.va.gov/homeless/landlords.asp websites to find additional information or locally, contact the HWW VAMC CRRC at (304) 429-6755, and ask for Heather Greene at ext. 4603 or Jerry Morris at ext. 4608.
All military Veterans are encouraged to enroll in the VA Health Care System. To begin the process, please complete an Application for Health Care Benefits at www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/. To find more information on how to register for benefits, please visit: www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Huntington, W. Va. is a fully accredited 80-bed acute medical and surgical care facility offering primary and subspecialty outpatient care, including rehabilitation and mental health services. The Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center is honored to serve Veterans in a primary service area that includes 10 counties in West Virginia, 2 counties in southern Ohio, and 12 counties in eastern Kentucky.