HVAC Subcommittee Reviews HUD/VASH Program
By PVA National Staff
On January 14, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity met to examine the Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program. HUD-VASH is a collaborative program between HUD and VA that combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help veterans who are homeless and their families find and sustain permanent housing. During the hearing, VA reported many HUD/VASH vouchers went unused last year for reasons such as poor landlord participation, insufficient value to cover the cost of housing in densely populated areas, and a shortage of staffing in the VA to assign the vouchers. Witnesses from private entities noted that annual point-in-time counts of veterans experiencing homelessness have decreased by nearly 50 percent since 2009. Witnesses urged the panel to continue investing in housing programs, which when coupled with administrative changes to make the HUD-VASH program more effective, would prevent vouchers from going unused.
On a related note, this hearing came on the heels of the House passing H.R. 2398, the Veteran HOUSE Act of 2020, which would expand eligibility of the HUD/VASH program to chronically homeless veterans who were discharged under other-than-honorable conditions. Many in Congress felt the move was necessary to ensure these veterans have safe and reliable options for housing as evidenced by its 362 to 31 approval vote. A similar level of support is expected in the upper chamber when the bill is considered there.