VA Gets COVID Relief Money to Combat Homelessness

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Veteran homelessness is expected to worsen due to the pandemic. (Getty Images/Debbie Helbing)
Veteran homelessness is expected to worsen due to the pandemic. (Getty Images/Debbie Helbing)

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Wednesday that it has received an extra $300 million to provide help to veterans who are at increased risk of homelesness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extra money is part of the $17.2 billion provided to the VA by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which also included direct payments to citizens and small-business relief programs.

"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."

The money will go to three VA programs that are designed to support homeless veterans and prevent at-risk vets from becoming homeless. The programs include:

Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program. $202 million is being provided for emergency housing and assistance to very low-income veterans and their families to help keep them from being evicted. The VA says it expects a wave of evictions as a result of the nationwide quarantine shutdown. It will work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to find safe housing for veterans who are at risk of eviction, or who are currently living in conditions that may contribute to the spread of the virus.

Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program. $88 million is earmarked for this program, which provides grants to community organizations across the country. The money is given to local organizations that provide support in the form of meals and shelter to homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. It will be added to the funds the VA already gives such providers. The VA is expecting a surge of requests for federal funding as the number of homeless veterans, or those who are in need of basic monetary assistance, rises as a result of unemployment or under-employement caused by the extended economic shutdown.

Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program. $10 million is being used to provide temporary shelter to veterans and families who are required to isolate themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. This money will also be used to provide medical treatment as necessary.

More information about the VA's homeless assistance programs

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