WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin, together with U.S. Representatives Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and John Delaney (all D-Md.) today announced $491,367 in federal grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide permanent homes for homeless veterans in Maryland. The Hagerstown Housing Authority will receive $219,521, the Calvert County Housing Authority will receive $198,901, and the Baltimore County Housing Authority will receive $72,945.
“I believe our support for our military in the field must be matched by support for our veterans at home,” said Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee which funds HUD, and a member of the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus and the Senate Military Families Caucus. “Promises made to veterans must be promises kept. These funds in the federal checkbook will help our vets find homes. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to our men and women in uniform. These grants will show that gratitude not just with words, but with deeds.”
“Those who fought to defend this nation should not have to fight for roofs over their heads when they return,” U.S. Senator Ben Cardin said. “The HUD grants announced today help deliver on the promise we make to our military personnel as they pledge to defend our freedom. Working to end homelessness amongst our veterans is one important way we can begin to honor our men and women in uniform.”
“I’m pleased that HUD allocated 21 HUD-VASH vouchers to Southern Maryland to be used to combat homelessness among veterans in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties,” said Congressman Steny H. Hoyer. “These vouchers will bring much-needed relief to those who performed their duty to our country and are now asking us to fulfill our duty to them. I will continue to work with the Maryland Delegation to push for measures that help get veterans the support they need as they transition back home.”
“A home represents safety and security, and there are few people more deserving of our help in finding one than the men and women in uniform who risk their lives to keep us safe,” Representative Elijah Cummings said. “Our veterans have earned our support and appreciation, and the funds announced today for Maryland veterans through HUD’s VASH program are one way we fulfill our commitment to them.”
“Taking care of our veterans isn’t just a top priority – it’s an obligation,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. “Since 2010, we have seen a 33 percent reduction in homelessness among our nation’s heroes and this funding will take us one step closer to the day when all veterans have a roof over their head.”
“We must do everything we can to help veterans in Maryland and across America find good homes,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Grants – like the ones announced today by HUD to address homeless veterans’ housing needs – will enable us to follow through on the promises we have made to our veterans.”
“We have a sacred obligation to support our nation’s veterans and there’s little more fundamental to a person’s well-being and dignity than having a place to live” said Congressman Delaney. “I’m hopeful that federal grants to the Hagerstown Housing Authority will help Western Maryland veterans secure the permanent housing they deserve.”
The supportive housing assistance is provided through the HUD – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA. As of June 2014, the HUD-VASH program served a total of 74,019 veterans since 2008.
HUD-VASH is a critical part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end Veteran and long-term chronic homelessness in 2015. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women. HUD’s annual “point in time” estimate of the number of homeless persons and families nationwide for 2014 found that Veteran homelessness fell by 33 percent (or 24,837 people) since 2010. On a single night in January 2014, 49,993 veterans were homeless.
The grants announced today are part of $75 million appropriated this year to support the housing needs of homeless veterans. In October, Senator’s Mikulski and Cardin announced $777,845 in a first round of HUD-VASH grants awarded to the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, the Harford County Housing Agency, and the Baltimore County Housing Authority.
Local public housing authorities provide rental assistance to homeless Veterans while nearby VA Medical Centers (VAMC) offer supportive services and case management.
VAMCs work closely with homeless Veterans then refer them to public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of the homelessness and the need for longer term more intensive support to obtain and maintain permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provides.
Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible homeless Veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.