Understanding Veteran Housing Assistance

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A veteran happily stands outside his home with his young daughter.

Are you, or is someone you know, a veteran of the United States military? If so, you may be wondering what options exist for housing assistance after your service is complete. As a demographic, veterans more are at risk of homelessness than most other groups, and they often require specialized support in order to integrate back into civilian life. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocates funding towards housing and rental assistance for the veteran community. They also offer voucher programs that are specifically tailored to help veterans and their families.

Countless veterans have successfully received assistance from the government, and every day more and more families are able to put a roof over their heads thanks to them. Although you may already be familiar with more publicized programs like Section 8, it may interest you to know that there are other, perhaps lesser-known resources available to you as someone who served in the U.S. military.

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program

The HUD offers the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, otherwise known as HUD-VASH, to homeless vets who need help renting private housing. A case manager will be assigned to you to kick off the process, and they should inform you as to your eligibility. You will then be guided every step of the way towards obtaining the housing you need.

A HUD-VASH candidate can expect to access the medical treatments and healthcare they need through the program, too, including treatment for problems related to substance abuse and mental health counseling if deemed necessary. The goal is to assess the capacity for independent living and connect the individual to any services they might need beyond housing. It is therefore recommended that you cooperate with any treatment that is offered to you in order to expedite the process and ensure that you’re fully utilizing the resources at your disposal.

Since this is an HUD program, the Public Housing Authority (PHA) is also involved, and they stipulate clear requirements based on certain factors like your family’s net income, the number of people in your family, and your own personal assets. Once these requirements have been met, you’re added to a waiting list. After you’re issued your voucher, you’ll be able able to choose what kind of housing you desire, whether it’s a condo, apartment, or single-family residence. As outlined by the program, the appropriate landlords and leasing offices must first agree to the terms of the voucher, after which you agree to pay a fixed amount in rent which is affordable to you.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families

Perhaps you’re not facing homelessness but are worried that your current housing situation is no longer affordable. The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program is specifically designed to help vets with this concern, as well as those who have already become homeless. Funded through VA grants, non-profits, and consumer cooperatives, the program aids low-income veterans in locating more affordable housing, and will even cover rent, utilities, the cost of moving, and your security deposit in some cases.

In order to qualify, you must present any documents that prove your status as a veteran, such as an official discharge form or your VA identification card. These documents can be submitted along with your application to a VA case manager, who may then refer you to grantees in your area. You and your family’s income and assets are then heavily considered, as the grants are intended for very low-income veterans who would otherwise be vulnerable to homelessness.

Enhanced-Use Lease Program

Veteran-approved homes and apartments are also available in the private sector, sometimes even on VA land. For instance, the Enhanced-Use Lease Program sets aside VA-owned land on which homeless veterans can reside. Sometimes called “veterans’ villages,” these communities often contain much more than just housing, as offices on the campus seek to address the needs of veterans in every aspect of their lives. Many veterans also find that living in a community with others who have served provides them with a sense of belonging.

Some of the benefits of this type of housing include proximity to hospitals and VA facilities, as well as on-campus career re-training, internet access, and help with managing finances. Vets also find that such homes are equipped with amenities suited to their needs, such as handicap-accessible entrances and handrails.

You are always entitled to know your rights as a veteran, regardless of your financial situation. Landlords in many states cannot discriminate against veterans, but you should still educate yourself on your state’s rental laws to be as prepared as possible. Finding housing that fits your budget, is close to the facilities you need, and will accept service animals is paramount. The housing market can be hard to navigate, too, but when you’ve served in the military, you should be able to sit back and allow these programs to work for you. 

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