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50 homeless vets to get aid

Fifty more homeless veterans in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area will have the chance to receive housing assistance through vouchers funded by U.S. Housing and Urban Development.

A federal spending bill provides $3.8 million for an additional 610 vouchers to housing agencies in the Northwest. That includes 25 vouchers each for the Spokane Housing Authority and the Idaho Housing and Finance Association in Coeur d’Alene, HUD and Veterans Affairs officials announced Tuesday.

As part of the Veterans Affairs Housing Program, VA medical centers will provide support services and case management to eligible homeless veterans.

“This is a huge boost for efforts to get homeless veterans in our state into stable housing,” U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, said Tuesday in a news release. “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.”

A January 2011 count in Spokane found 91 homeless veterans, including 18 living in places unfit for human habitation like cars or under bridges, said George Dahl, the city’s human services department manager. The others were staying in transitional housing.

Nationwide, HUD this year will provide $72.6 million to housing agencies to provide housing and case management for more than 10,000 homeless veterans.

“After serving our country, veterans should not end up on the streets, homeless,” Mary McBride, HUD Northwest regional administrator, said in a news release. “They have given us a great deal. Helping them obtain decent, affordable housing is the right thing to do in return for their service.”

HUD’s annual homeless count in January 2011 found that veteran homelessness fell by nearly 12 percent in the prior year. Veterans participating in the program rent privately owned housing and usually contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

This is the first of two rounds of program funding this year. HUD officials expect to announce the remaining funding by the end of summer.


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