June 20, 2009 in City

Homeless vets to get help with housing

Federal vouchers will pay for one year’s rent
By The Spokesman-Review

As many as 35 homeless veterans in the Spokane area will receive housing assistance this year through a $75 million nationwide program.

The federal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program provides rental assistance vouchers worth about $7,500 for each veteran and any family members, according to an announcement this week by the office of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

“Each one of these vouchers means a year’s rent for someone who has sacrificed for our nation but is now sleeping on our streets,” said Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Housing Appropriations subcommittee.

Washington housing authorities will receive 420 vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In addition to rental assistance, eligible homeless veterans are provided support services and case management by local Veterans Health Administration medical centers.

Steve Cervantes, director of Northeast Washington Housing Solutions, said the program has been successful, largely because of the cooperation of the local VA facilities.

Last year, the first year of the program, Spokane received 35 vouchers, King County received 53 and Seattle, 52. Nearly all the veterans receiving those vouchers have been placed in housing, among the highest rates in the nation, Cervantes said.

The VA said a 2007-’08 “point-in-time” survey found 131,000 homeless veterans in the United States, including 4,000 in the region served by the Spokane VA Medical Center – Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Western Montana.

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