Facing Backlash, VA Reverses Cuts To Program Helping Homeless Vets: Report


Facing swift and stiff backlash from lawmakers and activists, the Department of Veterans Affairs has reportedly backtracked on a decision to slash funding for a successful program that helps provide housing to homeless veterans.

Politico first reported on Wednesday that the VA was planning to essentially end a $460 million program that supports veterans looking for permanent housing. The program, known as HUD-VASH, provides vets with case management and clinical services from the VA and rental assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The VA's plan had been to funnel money allocated for the program to local VA hospitals to use however they saw fit. The hospitals only had to show they were "dealing with homelessness" in some way, Politico reported.

VA officials reportedly shared news of the plan with advocates and state officials in a Friday call ― but "anger exploded," said Politico. Advocates accused the VA of "putting at risk the lives of men and women who've served this country."

Hours after Politico's report was published on Wednesday, The Washington Post revealed that the VA appeared to be second-guessing its decision, first described in an internal VA memo circulated in September.

VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement to the Post that "there will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless programs."

"Over the next six months, I will solicit input from our local VA leaders and external stakeholders on how best to target our funding to the geographical areas that need it most," Shulkin said.

The reversal came after a torrent of criticism from advocates and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

"The VA is taking its foot off the pedal," Leon Winston, an executive at Swords to Plowshares, an organization that supports homeless vets in San Francisco, told Politico this week.

In November, all members of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on military construction, veterans affairs and related agencies signed a letter, shared online by the Post, "strongly" urging to VA to pause any action on its plan so that its "intention, consequences and implementation" could be better understood.

"The shift [of funds] could have tremendous unintended consequences," the senators cautioned.

Even former first daughter Chelsea Clinton chimed in this week to criticize the proposal.

HUD-VASH is the largest homeless veteran housing program in the country. Since 2008, more than 111,000 homeless veterans have found permanent housing thanks to the program, according to a 2017 report compiled by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

"Nearly 40,000 veterans experiencing homelessness on any given night and HUD-VASH plays a big role in ending veteran homelessness and decreasing that number, especially for the chronically homeless," Randy Brown, a spokesman for the organization, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month.


More Related News

U.S. veterans affairs official to retire after report on travel
U.S. veterans affairs official to retire after report on travel

The chief of staff to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, named in a report that found "serious derelictions" in a visit to Europe by Shulkin, will retire, the Department of Veterans Affairs said on Friday. The agency said in a statement that it had opened a formal investigation into actions by chief of staff Vivieca Wright Simpson that were detailed in a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general. The report, released on Wednesday, said Shulkin improperly accepted tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament during a government trip to Europe last summer and that his chief of staff made false statements and altered an email so the government would pay...

VA's chief of staff steps down after travel flap

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday that the agency's chief of staff has stepped down after an investigation alleged she had doctored emails to justify Secretary David Shulkin's wife accompanying him on a European trip at taxpayer expense.

Trump Technology Aide Is Latest to Exit Turbulent White House
Trump Technology Aide Is Latest to Exit Turbulent White House

A senior technology aide to President Donald Trump is stepping down, the latest in a growing list of top officials to depart a turbulent White House in recent days.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Latin America

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.