Rep. Jim Costa urged the U.S. Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs to prioritize Merced County in their consideration for grants to support homeless veterans. The Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program provides local housing authorities with critical funds to provide permanent supportive housing, case management, and rental assistance. The Merced County 2013 Homeless Count and Survey released in May stated that of 26 of Merced's 372 homeless individuals were veterans.
"We are making great strides in ending homelessness among veterans nationwide, but we still have more work to do here in our Valley," said Costa. "These grants help transform lives by providing comprehensive services to at-risk veterans, and the need is clear here in Merced. Regardless of the zip code, no one who served our nation in uniform should ever be living on the streets."
Through the HUD-VASH program, homeless veterans receiving services through the VA can be referred to local housing authorities to obtain VASH vouchers for rental assistance. By combining case management from the VA and housing assistance, the program aims to give long-time homeless veterans the support needed to obtain and maintain permanent housing.