The HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program is a relatively new cross agency initiative that helps homeless veterans by offering them not only housing, but also supportive services. These supportive services offer the type of assistance that many chronically homeless veterans need to overcome the obstacles that have led them, and sometimes their families, into homelessness.
HUD-VASH meetings are held in Kentucky regularly to strengthen alliances among agencies that administer the program. This ensures that all of the vouchers allocated to Kentucky are used by the veterans who need them in a timely and effective manner.
During one such meeting, Laurie Hardin, a Veterans Affairs (VA) caseworker in Louisville, Kentucky, shared the success story of a HUD-VASH voucher recipient, a chronically homeless veteran with schizophrenia with substance abuse issues who sought assistance from the VA in November 2012.
The veteran identified the goal of getting housing since he was continually living on the streets. Because he was actively abusing drugs and not taking his medications, he was banned from shelters. This made it extremely difficult for Laurie to locate him at times and nearly impossible for her to meet with him for scheduled appointments.
Eventually the man’s behavior brought him into the legal system, allowing Laurie an opportunity to discuss his housing needs in a controlled setting so that she could help him move beyond the criminal justice system and toward self sufficiency. She counseled the veteran about getting a voucher and even completed the needed paperwork. Unfortunately, he subsequently returned to jail for several months but Laurie continued to provide assistance, visited him in jail, and kept his voucher application active while he was hospitalized for his addiction. The VA then activated his housing voucher 3 ½ months after Laurie had requested it.
He has chosen an apartment that he would like to rent and is very close to achieving his housing goal. Until then, he continues to maintain his stability in a shelter and remains in contact with Laurie. Laurie truly believes that the continuous engagement and outreach combined with the reassurance that a HUD-VASH voucher was available helped him to make better choices and have optimism for the future. Sometimes just the hope of attaining permanent housing and knowing someone cares can have an enormous impact on the quality of another’s life.
David is a Senior Management Analyst in HUD’s Louisville, Kentucky field office. The post was also written by Laurie Hardin, Department of Veterans Affairs Caseworker at the Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville.