April 2, 2015
Veterans and Homelessness
The federal government assists homeless veterans through a
number of targeted federal programs, and in 2009 the
Obama Administration announced a plan to end veteran
homelessness by FY2015. This In Focus describes the
major federal programs that assist homeless veterans,
funding for select programs, and the number and
characteristics of veterans experiencing homelessness. For
more information, see CRS Report RL34024, Veterans and
Homelessness, by Libby Perl.
Federal Programs for Homeless
Programs to assist homeless veterans are funded through
three agencies: the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA),
Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD).
• Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV): Through
HCHV, VA medical center staff conduct outreach to
homeless veterans, provide care and treatment for
medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorders, and
refer veterans for supportive services. The HCHV
program is authorized through FY2015 (P.L. 112-154).
• Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans (DCHV):
DCHV (first funded through P.L. 100-71) provides
rehabilitative services for physically and mentally ill or
aged veterans who need assistance, but are not in need
of the level of care offered by hospitals and nursing
homes. Through DCHV, veterans receive medical,
psychiatric, and substance abuse treatment, and
vocational rehabilitation services.
• Compensated Work Therapy/ Transitional
Residence Program (CWT/TR): CWT gives veterans
with disabilities work experience and skills so that they
may re-enter the workforce and maintain employment
on their own. The Transitional Residence (TR)
component to CWT provides housing to CWT
participants who have mental illnesses or chronic
substance abuse disorders and who are homeless or at
risk of homelessness. The TR component of CWT is
authorized through FY2015 (P.L. 113-175).
175), targets GPD funds to specific groups of veterans,
including women, elderly veterans, terminally or
mentally ill veterans, and veterans with children.
• Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF):
SSVF funds grants for supportive services to assist very
low-income veterans and their families who are either
residing in permanent housing or transitioning from
homelessness. Eligible services include assistance with
rent, utility or moving costs, outreach, case
management, and help with obtaining VA and other
mainstream benefits. The program is authorized at $300
million through FY2015 by P.L. 113-175.
• Acquired Property Sales for Homeless Veterans: The
VA is authorized to sell, lease, lease with the option to
buy, or donate properties to nonprofit organizations and
state government agencies that will use the property as
homeless shelters for veterans and their families. The
program is authorized through FY2015 by P.L. 113-175.
• Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP):
HVRP grantees provide services to veterans including
outreach, assistance in interview preparation, job search,
job training, and follow-up assistance after placement.
The program is authorized at $50 million through
FY2015 (P.L. 113-175). A separate HVRP targets
women veterans and veterans with children and is
authorized through FY2015 at $1 million (P.L. 111275).
• Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program: Most
recently authorized through FY2015 (P.L. 113-175),
grantee organizations through the Incarcerated Veterans
Transition program provide job training and placement
services to veterans who are leaving prison.
Figure 1. Funding for Select Programs
VA Obligations and DOL Budget Authority, FY2004-FY2014
• Grant and Per Diem Program (GPD): GPD
authorizes the VA to make grants to public entities or
private nonprofit organizations to provide services and
transitional housing to homeless veterans. The program
is authorized at $250 million in FY2015 and subsequent
years (P.L. 113-175).
• GPD for Homeless Veterans with Special Needs:
GPD for homeless veterans with special needs,
authorized at $5 million through FY2015 (P.L. 113-
Source: VA and DOL Budget Justifications.
www.crs.gov | 7-5700
Veterans and Homelessness
HUD and VA Collaborative Program
HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUDVASH): Through HUD-VASH, homeless veterans receive
rental assistance in the form of Section 8 vouchers from
HUD and supportive services from the VA. Begun as a
three-year inter-agency collaboration in the 1990s,
Congress funded new VASH vouchers in each year from
FY2008-FY2015. The FY2015 appropriation law (P.L.
113-235) provided that funds be set aside for a
demonstration for Native American homeless or at-risk
veterans who are living on or near reservations.
HUD and VA together determine how vouchers are
allocated across the country. The majority of HUD-VASH
vouchers are tenant-based, meaning that veterans can use
them to rent available units on the private rental market
(subject to program rules). A portion of the vouchers have
been issued competitively as project-based vouchers and
are attached to specific units of housing.
See Table 1 for funding and new VASH vouchers allocated
in each year. Funding supports VASH vouchers for one
year, after which they are absorbed into the Section 8
account. Cumulatively, through FY2015, funds are
sufficient to support approximately 79,000 vouchers.
Funding for HUD-VASH was last authorized in FY2011.
figure does not represent all VA funding and includes DOL
budget authority.) During the same period, healthcare
obligations for homeless veterans have increased from $2.5
billion to $5.0 billion. The number of veterans reported to
be experiencing homelessness has also declined.
Numbers and Characteristics
Based on HUD annual point-in-time (PIT) counts of
homeless individuals (taking place on one day during the
last week of January each year), the number of homeless
veterans has declined from 74,050 in 2009 to 49,993 in
2014. See Figure 2.
Note that the PIT count does not capture veterans who are
homeless at other times during the year. HUD uses data
from a sample of jurisdictions for full-year estimates of
veterans experiencing homelessness, but the data only
include veterans who are sheltered (living in emergency
shelter or transitional housing), not those living on the street
or other places not meant for human habitation.
As seen in Figure 2, in FY2009 not-quite 150,000 veterans
were estimated to be homeless and living in emergency
shelter or transitional housing. By FY2013 the number had
decreased to approximately 140,000 veterans.
Figure 2. Number of Homeless Veterans
Table 1. HUD-VASH, Funding for New Vouchers
Source: Appropriations laws and HUD notices. See CRS Report
RL34024, Veterans and Homelessness, by Libby Perl for full citations.
a. Not yet distributed.
Plan to End Veteran Homelessness
In 2009 the VA announced a plan to end veteran
homelessness by the end of FY2015. From the time the
announcement was made to the present, obligations for
targeted VA homeless veterans programs have increased
from $376 million in FY2009 to an estimated $1.4 billion in
FY2015. (See Figure 1 for funding for select homeless
veteran programs from FY2004 to FY2014. Note that the
Source: HUD Annual Homeless Assessment Reports to Congress.
According to HUD data, homeless veterans living in
emergency shelter and transitional housing are primarily
men (91%) and the majority (54%) have a disability. While
more than half of all veterans are age 62 and older (54%),
veterans in the 31-50 and 51-61 age groups make up 36%
and 43% of the homeless veteran population, respectively.
African American veterans are overrepresented compared
to their percentages in the overall veteran population—39%
of homeless veterans are African American (compared to
11% of all veterans). Non-Hispanic white veterans are
underrepresented, making up 80% of all veterans but 50%
of homeless veterans.
Libby Perl, email@example.com, 7-7806
www.crs.gov | 7-5700