Grand Junction VA receives 25 housing vouchers for homeless veterans | PostIndependent.com

Grand Junction VA receives 25 housing vouchers for homeless veterans

Tracy Dvorak
tdvorak@gjfreepress.com

A warm home and hearth await 25 yet-to-be-selected homeless veterans living in Grand Junction. Housing vouchers provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) have just been released to the Grand Junction VA Medical Center.

“We have 140 HUD/VASH vouchers in use and this will bring us to 165 in the Grand Valley” said Lisa Strauss, GJVAMC’s homeless veterans program coordinator, in a news release. “With programs like HUD-VASH, we are working to end veteran homelessness in Grand Junction one veteran at a time.”

Homeless veterans chosen will receive rental assistance from HUD (Housing Urban Development) with case management and clinical services provided by the local VA. The VAMC works closely with local homeless veterans and then refers them to the Grand Junction Housing Authority for these vouchers based upon a variety of criteria, according to the news release; most importantly, the duration of the homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support to obtain and maintain permanent housing. Veterans chosen for the program must also have some sort of income, such as from a job, Social Security or disability.

Paul Sweeney, customer relations chief at the GJVAMC, predicts the vouchers will be snapped up quickly due to the ongoing need in Grand Junction.

“We still have homeless veterans in the community, and it’s not formal, but when I spoke with the shelters about six months ago, leadership there told me the economic situation is still hitting a lot of the smaller, isolated communities hard. Many of those communities don’t have the resources Grand Junction has; so when people find themselves homeless they tend to end up in the Grand Valley and a percentage of them are veterans.”

Veterans participating in the program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. Homeless vets chosen for the program do not have to live in the Grand Junction city limits, but they do have to find housing within Mesa County and the local VA’s case management radius.

“We encourage our veterans to think about things like public transportation routes and locations of grocery and department stores, etc. And to make sure that the Disabled American Veterans transportation vans serve their prospective homes,” Sweeney said.

“Some veterans like more isolated neighborhoods, but it’s generally best if they can find housing that will allow them to maintain their independence should their vehicle breakdown, or they develop a medical condition that prohibits them from driving,” Sweeney added.

Nationwide since 2008, a total of 48,385 vouchers have been awarded and 42,557 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes due to the HUD-VASH program, according to the news release. For more information, call Sweeney at 970-263-2800, ext. 2407.


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