VA Awards $14M in Grants to Aid Homeless Vets

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced grants totaling nearly $14 million to aid homeless veterans, including providing for their transportation to and from VA medical centers and clinics.

In separate statements on Tuesday, the VA announced it would provide $4.9 million in grants to provide enhanced services for homeless vets in 11 states, and also disburse another $8.8 million in grants to fund 164 housing rehab projects across 37 states and buy vans to facilitate the transportation of homeless veterans.

The multi-million dollar efforts are the latest in the VA's five-year plan -- announced by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in 2009 -- to eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015.

Shinseki, in a recent roundtable discussion with reporters, suggested the rough economic times of recent years could make the original 2015 end goal difficult to achieve, but the goal will remain the same.

The VA said that on one night in January 2012 -- the last date for which the department has released figures -- there were 62,619 veterans on the streets. That's down more than 17 percent since Shinseki pledged an end to vet homelessness.

During the roundtable, he called it "remarkable" that at a time when veteran homelessness typically would go up, it has actually gone down, according to a report in Stars and Stripes.

The $8.8 million grant is set to rehabilitate transitional housing and buy vans in 37 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

The $4.9 million grant will fund community agencies providing services to homeless veterans. 

These funds follow the VA's July announcement of $300 million in Supportive Services for Veteran Families grants, which enables non-profits and community organizations to assist veterans and their families who are low-income or otherwise at risk of homelessness to stay in their homes.

The VA said it is committing $1 billion through fiscal 2014 toward programs that prevent or turn around homelessness among the country's veterans.

"We want every veteran who faces homelessness to know that VA is here to help," Shinseki said in a statement.

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