VA Reverses Course on Cuts to Popular Homeless Veterans Program
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently floated the idea of cutting a $460 million "from a successful program to reduce homelessness among former military personnel," according to an article by Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, but has since backtracked.
According to Wax-Thibodeaux, the VA "[bowed] to pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups who criticized the effort as cruel and counterproductive." The program allots $460 million in funding to local VA hospitals for discretionary use—specifically "a voucher program, run by VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that provides long-term living accommodations for the country’s most vulnerable military veterans, many of whom suffer from mental illness."
Arthur Allen and Lorraine Woellert first reported the news of the threat to the program earlier this week:
Anger exploded on a Dec. 1 call that was arranged by Shulkin’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans to explain the move. Advocates for veterans, state officials and even officials from HUD, which co-sponsors the program, attacked the decision, according to five people who were on the call.
The news also breaks the same week as new Department of Housing and Urban Development data on homelessness around the country. While the new data are positive in terms of overall homelessness and for many local communities around the country, the data also report that homeless increased by 1.5 percent among veterans since January 2016, following many years of improvements.