Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> Veterans Affairs -> Homelessness

ItemVeterans Affairs
The Promise: "Launch an innovative supportive services-housing program to prevent at-risk veterans and veteran families from falling into homelessness in the first place."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans", dayed 09/09/08.
Status:Obama repeated this promise on 03/16/09 at the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was also addressed in his proposed budget for FY2010.

The VA began a $26M pilot program in FY2010 to prevent homelessness and maintain housing stability for veterans' families. Further, the VA began supportive services in FY2010 for low-income veterans living in permanent housing to help prevent the onset of homelessness.

At the end of CY2011, homeless veterans totaled 67,495, down from 76,000 in CY2010.

For FY2012, the VA's budget included $1.019B to prevent and reduce veteran homelessness, a 17.5% increase over FY2011. The President's request for FY2013 proposes an increase of $333M over the FY2012 level to $1.352B. The $333M is earmarked as $200M for supportive services for Veterans families, $43M for the HUD-VASH program, and $11M for grant and per diem programs.

This promise has been fulfilled.
The Promise: "Expand proven homeless veteran housing vouchers to assist those already on the streets."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans", dated 09/09/08.
Status:According to a Veterans Administration (VA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report released in 02/11, 76K veterans were homeless on any given night in CY2009, representing about 12% of all homeless adults nationwide. About 136K veterans spent at least one night in a shelter that year.

According to the VA, there were over 131K homessless veterans as of early-CY2010. Only about 9,800 vouchers were handed out by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in CY2010 to homeless veterans, 200 less than the authorized amount. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reported that in CY2010, the VA served only 25% of veterans in need -- about 300K heroes.

President Obama's FY2010 VA budget proposal provided funding for the formulation of a pilot program to maintain stable housing for veterans who are at risk of falling into homelessness. Nothing was said in his budget proposal about those who are "already on the streets".

In CY2009 and CY2010, there were approximately 14 bills pending before the House and Senate that could have directly impacting homeless veterans and those at risk of becoming homeless. Three were key to promise fulfillment if passed and signed into law:

S. 1547 - "Zero Tolerance for Veteran Homelessness Act of 2009,
S. 1160 - "The Homes for Heroes Act of 2009", and
S. 1237 - "Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans With Children Act of 2009."

Nothing happened on these bills beyond being referred to or reported by committees, and they died with the 111th Congress at the end of CY2010.

Numerous bills to benefit homeless veterans were introduced during the 112th Congress. Except for H.R. 3298 which passed the House on 03/27/12, no action beyond committee referrals was taken on any of them and they expired with the 112th Congress at the end of CY2012. These included but were not limited to the following:

H.R. 136 - Would have allowed taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans.
H.R. 287 and H.R. 3298 - "Homes for Heroes Act of 2011" which would have authorized an annual budget increase to provide 20,000 additional rental vouchers each fiscal year. This bills were reintroduced as H.R. 386 on 01/23/13.
H.R. 806 - "End Veteran Homelessness Act of 2011"
S. 411 and H.R. 1133 - "Helping Our Homeless Veterans Act of 2011"
S. 1060 - "Honoring All Veterans Act of 2011"
S. 1148 - "Veterans Programs Improvement Act of 2011"
H.R. 2559 - "Helping Homeless Heroes Act of 2011"
H.R. 5830 - "Housing for Heroes Act"

In FY2011, the VA and HUD spent $46.2M on a voucher program and the VA initiated a $160M grant program to assist veterans and their families who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The annual 10,000 vouchers were bumped up by 7,700 vouchers in FY2011, a one-time occurrence.

As of 01/12, according to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) records, approximately 62,619 veterans did not have a nighttime roof over their heads. This represented 14% of the homeless adult population, up from 12% in FY2009. As of 01/13, the number of homeless veterans had reportedly gone down to about 57,850. This statistic is not expected to improve significantly as pullouts from Iraq have been completed and troops are scheduled to vacate Afghanistan by end-CY2014.

The Obama Administration's FY2014 budget request for new HUD-VA Supporting Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers amounted to about $75M, but the quantity of new vouchers remains unchanged from the FY2008 baseline: 10,000. Nonetheless, the Obama Administration's goal was to reduce the number of homeless veterans to 35,000 in FY2013. That didn't happen.

The Obama Administration's ultimate goal, including VA participation in a "100,000 Homes" collaborative effort with community organizations, is to eliminate all veteran homelessness by CY2015.

While initial progress has been made toward promise fulfillment to eliminate veteran homelessness, the Obama Administration failed to significantly expand the veteran voucher system beyond the estimated 10,000 vouchers authorized each year from FY2009 through FY2014 with approximately 48,400 vouchers awarded to public housing agencies nationwide as of end-FY2013.

This promise has not been fulfilled.