Key homeless veterans program spared from cuts

Finally, a small piece of good news on the federal budget front.

A key program for homeless veterans in Hampton Roads that was a candidate for spending cuts has been spared. The program, funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD) provides vouchers for qualified veterans to move into permanent housing.

The program is known as HUD-VASH, which stands for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing. The Hampton VA Medical Center, which administers the program through local housing authorities, has placed hundreds of veterans in their own homes through this program. In 2011, the center was recognized for its efforts by the VA.

That good news aside, advocates are closely watching other programs that help homeless veterans or provide training. The end result may be a mixed bag.

The mandated spending cuts under sequestration spare the Department of Veterans Affairs, meaning that VA benefits and services will not be touched. However, some veterans programs are funded through HUD or the Department of Labor, and those are vulnerable.

John Driscoll is the president and CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, and he's watching a couple of programs.

One is the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program, funded by the Labor Department. It is the primary federal program meant to move homeless veterans from the street to the workforce, and it could be in line for an 8 percent cut, he said.

Another program, Supportive Services for Veteran Families, was in line for a hefty increase this year – from $100 million to $300 million. It is the primary source of homeless veteran prevention, but that increase depends on Congress passing a new appropriations in the weeks ahead.

Still, the news could be worse, he said.

"It is a testament to Congress that they passed a robust budget for homeless veteran programs," he said.

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