The Biden administration announced new actions Thursday to help prevent and reduce veteran homelessness across the country, including $3.1 billion in funding to support efforts to quickly rehouse homeless Americans.
“These funds can be used for a wide range of critical interventions from rental assistance to supportive services to technology and data sharing,” said White House domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden, referring to the funding that will be made available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Continuum of Care program.
Additional actions being announced Thursday, according to a White House fact sheet, include: $11.5 million in funding for legal services for veterans experiencing homelessness; $58 million worth of funding to help homeless veterans find jobs; and a new series of “boot camps” by HUD and Veterans Affairs to help VA medical centers and public housing agencies more quickly rehouse veterans. The more than $3 billion in funding being announced by HUD is not specifically earmarked for veterans, although it will also go toward helping veterans struggling with homelessness, according to senior administration officials.
“We like to say here that the phrase, homeless veteran, should not exist in the English language. Ending veteran homelessness has been and continues to be a top priority of the president and his relentless advocacy for that goal has led to very important investments and advancements, including robust funding,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, who added that the VA is currently on track to meet its goal of rehousing 38,000 veterans in 2023.
The VA put 40,401 homeless veterans into permanent housing last year with 2,443 of them returning to homelessness at some point that same year, according to the VA.
While Thursday’s actions focus on the issue of homelessness for veterans, administration officials hope that progress made in rehousing former service members will help improve efforts to tackle the issue for all Americans experiencing homelessness.
“Homelessness is a challenge we face as a nation. But most importantly, it is a solvable one,” Tanden told reporters, adding: “There are so many lessons there, that can help us tackle this problem for all Americans.”
The $58 million in grant funding comes from the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service and will help veterans learn occupational skills, participate in on-the-job training or apprenticeships and provide other support services to reintegrate into the workforce.
The $11.5 million in legal services grants is a “first-of-its-kind,” according to the White House, and will help veterans obtain representation in landlord-tenant disputes, as well as assist with other court proceedings like child support, custody or estate planning.
“Legal support can be the difference between becoming homeless in the first instance, or having a safe stable house and a roof over their heads,” McDonough said.
President Joe Biden has made it a goal of his administration to reduce homelessness by 25% for all Americans by 2025, calling on the country in his State of the Union address this year to do more, including “helping veterans afford their rent because no one should be homeless in this country, especially not those who served it.”