More than 100 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania will receive rental vouchers totaling nearly $560,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The newest batch of vouchers, 103 in total, is part of the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, which has handed out more than $2 million in rental assistance in the state since October.
The vouchers will be given to housing authorities and veteran medical centers, which will help find veterans who need housing.
“This has been a tremendously successful way to get veterans paired up with a place to call home,” said Jane Vincent, regional administrator for HUD Region 3. “Clearly in this season we keep talking about home for the holidays, and this is all the more meaningful.”
Since its inception in 2008, the program has awarded more than 68,000 VASH vouchers to homeless veterans nationwide.
There were approximately 49,933 homeless veterans in the country in January, according to the newest HUD statistics.
“The fact that we have our military serving us and fighting for our freedom and laying their lives on the line for the country, and then coming back and finding themselves in whatever their situation is where they don’t have a place to live is just unconscionable,” Vincent said.
However, the rate of veteran homelessness in the nation dropped 33 percent from 2010 to 2014, which Vincent accredits to the tireless work of HUD and the Department of Veteran Affairs.
“A large part of that is due to the fact that we’ve really focused resources like VASH vouchers, targeting the veterans who are homeless and targeting them through their support network,” Vincent said.
First Lady Michelle Obama launched the “Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” this spring, which aims to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto took the challenge, and in its first 100 days, 125 homeless veterans in Pittsburgh received permanent housing.
“They are on their way and ready to set the target for the next 100 days,” Vincent said. “If they keep up this pace in the Pittsburgh area, they would have eliminated veterans’ homelessness in the next year.”
There are still more than 350 homeless veterans in Pittsburgh.