The United States Armed Forces are the backbone of our country, yet veterans often come back from deployment struggling with physical, mental, and financial issues.
These unsolved problems often lead veterans to experience homelessness. The VA (Veterans Affairs) keeps a Point-In-Time (PIT) Count of the number of veterans currently unhoused. As of January 2022, 33,129 veterans are without stable housing.
While that number is unacceptable, the good news is that it’s going down. There has been an 11% decrease in unhoused veterans since January 2020, and 55.3% less since 2010.
These numbers can be at least partially attributed to the VA’s homelessness services for veterans and families.
If you’re a veteran experiencing homelessness or work in a non-profit dedicated to veterans case management, we’ve put together this guide to VA programs for homeless veterans to get you plugged into the programs you need to live well.
The first iterations of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be traced back to 1636 when a law was passed that the pilgrims would support any disabled soldiers. While the VA has had many names since then, the current VA was formed when President Herbert Hoover consolidated the existing veteran’s programs under Executive Order 5398 in 1930.
Now, the VA has a large variety of programs for veterans, to help them succeed after they’ve completed their time serving in the military. The VA is an enormous organization; in 2023, the VA requested a mandatory funding amount of $161.3 billion.
Every program is in the spirit of the VA’s mission: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors”
VA homeless programs fall under the jurisdiction of the Homeless Programs Office (HPO). This branch is designed to connect unhoused veterans, or veterans on the verge of experiencing homelessness, to programs and assistance.
Right now, the HPO is in the middle of its five-year strategic plan, from 2021 to 2025, which has six main objectives:
These six objectives are made possible by the abundance of VA programs for homeless veterans. Some of the stand-out programs for veterans are listed below, as well as how to get in touch with each organization for services.
The VA Supportive Housing program combines the HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance and veterans case management services. This program connects veterans and their families to the services they need to remain housed.
To receive a voucher, the veteran and their family must agree to case management services. These services may include health care, mental health assessments and treatment, and counseling to curb problems like substance abuse. The main goal of HUD-VASH is to give veterans the tools they need to secure housing and stay there.
This program was recently awarded another $25.4 million as of January 2023 to continue to help homeless veterans secure safe housing.
To learn if a veteran is eligible for VA Supportive Housing, the veteran can go to their nearest VA medical center and let them know that they’re interested in HUD-VASH. Alternatively, a veteran can call the National Homeless Veteran Call Center at 877-4AID VET (or 877-424-3838). The line is available 24 hours a day, every day of the week.
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) provides homelessness services for veterans and families. Any low-income veteran with a family who is at risk of becoming homeless or is homeless can benefit from these services.
THE SSVF works by providing grant money to private non-profits and consumer cooperatives that then provide homelessness case management services for veterans and families in six major service areas.
The best way to find help through SSVF is to look through their provider list for the options in the veteran’s community. This list can connect a veteran to non-profits that will provide case management services to meet their needs.
If a veteran needs urgent care, they can always call the National Homeless Veteran Call Center at 877-4AID VET (or 877-424-3838).
There are tons of great programs through the VA, and it can feel overwhelming for a veteran to try to navigate the system by themselves. That’s why the HPO established Community Resource and Referral Centers (CRRCs).
These centers provide homelessness case management services for veterans currently experiencing homelessness or those on the brink of it. These centers can offer help to secure permanent housing, figure out how to navigate a new career, sign up for health care, and more.
And it’s not just for VA benefits. These centers can connect veterans to non-VA benefits within the community. They offer referrals to find the right help and resources on-site to aid homeless veterans.
To get help at a CRRC, a veteran should take a look at the directory and find the nearest center to their location. The directory contains the phone number and addresses of all the centers, so a veteran can call them first to ask any questions before heading over in person.
Stand Down events offer immediate aid to veterans. These events last for one to three days, and VA staff and volunteers are available at the location to immediately provide basic needs to veterans, including food, clothing, and screenings to address health problems.
These events allow for at-risk veterans to receive immediate attention. Veterans can also work with VA staff to secure referrals to other critical services, including health care, housing, work, counseling, and other critical veterans case management services.
The Stand Down events happen all over the United States, in both large and small metropolitan areas.
To find out when the Stand Down events take place, veterans can use the event page to filter by their state. The phone number and email for VA staff handling the event are available on the page, so veterans or non-profit organizations can call or email ahead of time with questions regarding the event.
One of the most critical VA homeless programs is the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans. All a homeless veteran needs to find help in their area is to use a phone and call the helpline at 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838).
This program is available 24/7, and it doesn’t cost anything. The call is confidential, and the veteran will speak with a trained VA counselor who can help them access the resources they need to secure housing, find healthcare, and more.
This hotline is available to
To receive help through the call center, all a veteran has to do is call 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838).
Homeless Patient Aligned Care Teams (HPACTs) are a team of professionals that work together to provide comprehensive care to a veteran. The team typically consists of medical doctors and nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, substance abuse counselors, and homeless program staff to assess the needs of each unhoused veteran to ensure they receive the proper care.
HPACT clinics are available at VA centers, CRRCs, and other local community clinics to provide veterans with the homelessness case management services and care they need without an appointment.
The best way to get help through an HPACT is to sign up for VA health care. The VA goes through how to apply for healthcare on its website. If a veteran needs help with their application, they can call for help at their local Veteran Service Organization.
If a homeless veteran needs immediate help, they can also call the hotline at 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838).
If you’re a non-profit that works with VA homeless programs, you need a streamlined system to communicate with your veterans and meet their needs through real-time, updated data.
PlanStreet offers powerful veterans services software for case management, where you can easily see all the data for your veteran clients in one place to best assess their physical, mental, and financial well-being.
Our software offers powerful tools to support your non-profit, including
To learn more about how PlanStreet Case Management Software can help you achieve your honorable vision to assist veterans and their families, contact us today.