The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it has expanded support services enabled by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to make available immediate relief for Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The CARES Act allocates $17.2 billion for the Veterans Health Administration, $300 million of which will be used this fiscal year to address the challenges faced by homeless and at-risk Veterans.
“A significant percentage of homeless Veterans or those at risk of homelessness are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their living conditions, age and chronic health complications,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “The funds from the CARES Act are vital and will allow VA to continue working diligently to prevent the spread of infection in communities and keep Veterans safe and on the pathway to permanent housing during this perilous time.”
Funding is provided for three critical VA programs to assist with the emergency response needed for Veterans living without safe, stable housing.
- Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program – $202 million has been allocated to provide emergency housing and homelessness prevention assistance to very low-income Veteran families to mitigate the expected wave of evictions and potential homelessness that will result from extensive unemployment. Funds for this program will also assist the Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing program in placing Veterans in safe housing to isolate them from the virus.
- Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program – Grants from the GPD program usually consist of a capped per diem payment from VA to community organizations to provide transitional housing and supportive services to Veterans. $88 million has been allocated to this program, which allows VA to waive per diem limits during the crisis and help GPD grantees to provide all needed emergency housing and supportive services, including emergency placement for Veterans who need to be isolated for their safety or the safety of others.
- Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program – $10 million has been allocated to provide emergency shelter and supportive services during the crisis, including placement in hotel rooms for Veterans needing emergency shelter or isolation to avoid spreading the virus. Housing will be paired with care, treatment and rehabilitative services.