We may all take pride and comfort in the recent finding that homelessness among veterans has significantly decreased in recent years – and yet, there’s still a long way to go to end veteran homelessness and much remains to be done. We must now take advantage of all the important lessons we’ve learned about how to best serve homeless veterans and leverage the Administration’s support to finish the job of ending veteran homelessness.
One of the biggest contributors to the decreased number of homeless veterans has been the increased federal investment in efficient and effective programs, such as the joint Department of Housing and Urban Development – Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program. Despite the increasingly difficult funding environment, homeless veteran programs have continued to receive increased resources. In fact, the President’s Budget Proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2013 included a whopping $333 million proposed increase to homeless veteran programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), with a final funding recommendation of $1.35 billion for homeless veterans programs. In addition to funding for HUD-VASH case management, this total includes funding for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, for which the President recommended a three-fold increase to $300 million, and the Grant and Per Diem Program.
This is excellent news and a clear sign that the Administration intends to stand behind and work toward the plan of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. The President’s Budget Proposal, however, is just a guide – it is not law. Congress still needs to finalize funding levels for these programs through the regular appropriations process.
This is where you come in! Help make sure our nation’s heroes are housed by joining our Veterans Campaign! Together, we can secure increased funding for these critical veteran homeless assistance programs in FY 2013. You can join our dedicated email list, which provides regular updates and action alerts on funding for veterans programs by emailing Kate Seif at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right now, we’re trying to get Members of Congress to hear from as many people as possible about how important it is to end veteran homelessness – and we only have three weeks left! Members of the House have until March 20 to submit to their colleagues on the Appropriations Committees an official list of their funding priorities for specific programs. Senators haven’t set a deadline yet, but it’s likely to be around the same time. Take this opportunity to send a letter or email to and encourage your representative or senator to send a “programmatic request” in support of providing $1.35 billion for VA’s homeless veteran programs. When you contact your congress person’s office, make sure to reach out to the congressional staffer who works on veterans’ issues in their office.
Working together, we’ve already made progress in educating Members of Congress on the importance of these programs. Just today, Alliance staff met with key staff members in the Senate to discuss the importance of the SSVF program and the role rapid re-housing plays in successfully serving veterans and their families. Let’s continue to capitalize on the progress that’s been made – get involved and let your Members know that those who served our country deserve a place to call home! Use this sample letter to help craft your message, and let Kate know if you have any questions.
Together, with your help, we can make sure Congress knows that our veterans – from any conflict, from any branch, from any base – deserve our help and support.