On November 10, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a report showing that more than 340,000 veterans received rental assistance as of March 2014. Between 2010 and 2014, veteran homelessness fell by 33%, which CBPP says can be attributed in part to the steady increase in the number of housing vouchers dedicated to veterans since 2008. While the Obama Administration has made progress towards its pledge to end veteran homelessness by 2015, the report shows that further work is needed to reach all veterans facing housing challenges.
Of the veterans who received rental assistance as of March 2014, 52% were elderly and 21% were non-elderly veterans with disabilities. A total of 121,000 children live in the homes of assisted veterans. More than one-third (34%) of assisted veterans lived in households with incomes below the poverty line and 76% lived in households with incomes below 200% of the poverty line.
Approximately 50,000 veterans received rental assistance through the HUD-Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing Voucher program (HUD-VASH), which combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The nearly 300,000 remaining assisted veterans received rental assistance through other federal, state, and local programs, but primarily through the three main federal rental assistance programs: the HCV program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and public housing.
Despite the existence of these programs, many veterans remain unassisted. An estimated 1.8 million low income veterans are cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities, and 762,000 are severely cost-burdened, paying more than 50% of their income on rent and utilities. Low income veterans are those with household income below 80% of the area median income (AMI). In 2012, 138,000 veterans stayed in a shelter for at least one night. HUD’s Point-in-Time Count in January 2014 identified 49,900 homeless veterans.
CBPP asserts that policymakers need to protect existing rental assistance programs as well as expand the avenues for assistance. For instance, CBPP notes that funding the National Housing Trust Fund through housing finance reform would result in more resources to meet the rental housing needs of extremely low income veterans. In addition, creating a new state-administered renter’s tax credit could support additional low income veteran renter households.
In November 2013, NLIHC released a report on the state of low income veterans, Housing Instability Among our Nation’s Veterans. The report found that seven in ten veteran households with incomes below 30% of AMI were severely cost-burdened in 2011. It also found that minority-headed households and households headed by a single female were more likely to face housing affordability challenges.
CBPP’s report, Rental Assistance Helps More than 340,000 Veterans Afford Homes, but Large Unmet Needs Remain, is available at http://www.cbpp.org/files/11-7-13hous.pdf
NLIHC’s 2013 report, Housing Instability Among Our Nation’s Veterans, is available at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/NLIHC-Veteran-Report-2013.pdf