Grant will help homeless veterans

Great Falls Tribune

by Jenn Rowell

Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus announced last week that Montana will receive more than $300,000 to provide housing opportunities to homeless veterans.

The $325,181 grant for housing vouchers comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s popular Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. The initiative works with local housing and support groups to provide eligible homeless veterans with services that aid recovery from physical and mental health conditions resulting from homelessness.

“This assistance goes a long way in helping us live up to our responsibilities to Montana’s veterans,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “More Montana veterans are coming home every day, and we have to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed. Sometimes that starts with a safe place to live so they can find work, go to school and care for themselves and their families.”

According to HUD and the VA, 70 veterans in Montana will be able to find permanent housing through the HUD-VASH grant.

According to Tester’s staff, 15 of those vouchers, worth $67,187 will go to the Housing Authority of Billings/the Billings CBOC. The other 55 vouchers, worth $257,994, will go to the Montana Department of Commerce and the VA Montana Health Care System based at Fort Harrison in Helena to distribute from there.

“Our veterans deserve to come home to good-paying jobs and a nation that honors their sacrifices,” Baucus said. “There are few better investments than circling around veterans who are homeless to give them the tools they need to lead healthy and whole lives.”

To be eligible for this program, veterans must qualify for VA Health Care, they must be homeless, and they must participate in case management services in order to receive permanent independent community housing.

According to HUD’s annual “point in time” report, which estimates the number of homeless persons and families in 2012, found that veteran homelessness fell 7.2 percent, or 4,876 people, since January 2011. On a single night in January 2012, the report found, 62,619 veterans were homeless.