A program that helped 345 Washington veterans escape homelessness last year is among the programs targeted for cuts in the U.S. House of Representatives’ continuing-appropriations bill.
The $75 million-a-year program, a cooperation between the departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs, has provided housing vouchers to 30,000 homeless veterans over the past three years, including 95 in Spokane.
“We’ve been able to help a lot of veterans with that,” said John Davis, coordinator of the Health Care for Homeless Veterans center in Spokane, 705 W. Second Ave.
Davis estimated that on any given day there are between 250 and 300 homeless veterans in Spokane County. Although veterans comprise about 8 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 12 percent of all homeless, according to a HUD and VA analysis.
HUD-VA supportive housing is considered the most effective program for lifting veterans out of homelessness because it combines housing vouchers with case management.
Many of those it has helped in Spokane include chronically homeless veterans and veterans with families who have made the transition to permanent housing, Davis said.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, visited McDermott Place, a Seattle homeless veterans facility, to draw attention to the program for which funding is eliminated in the House-passed continuing appropriations bill known as House Resolution 1.
Murray said the measure “puts politics and ideology over families, communities, and even those who have served and sacrificed for our nation.”
The bill, which cuts $61 billion from the budget in the current year, failed this month in the Senate as lawmakers continue to debate how deeply to cut spending.