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VASH Program in the Spotlight

Seth Embry, PHADA Policy Analyst

The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Program was first authorized in a 2001 act aimed at reducing homelessness among veterans, although the program began in the previous decade as a partnership between HUD and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). Since Congress began appropriating incremental vouchers in 2008 (prior years’ VASH vouchers were provided through set-asides from the larger housing choice voucher account), $755 million has been appropriated for approximately 94,383 new VASH vouchers. The VASH program has deep bipartisan support in Congress, most recently evidenced by a $40 million appropriation for Fiscal Year 2020. Despite its support and success, both Congress and the Administration are seeking to improve the program.

On January 14, 2020, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing to examine the VASH program. If the success of the program is measured by the number of veterans housed, the success cannot be questioned. However, the program’s design and management are hampering its full effectiveness. The hearing offered administration officials, service providers, local officials, and veterans advocates the opportunity to put forth solutions to improve the VASH program. Administration officials appearing as witnesses were Keith Harris, National Director of Clinical Operations for the VA Homeless Program Office and Hunter Kurtz, Assistant Secretary of Public and Indian Housing. A second panel of witnesses featured the advocates, local officials, and service providers.

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