Eagles in nest with baby. Photo: Unknown.

HUD-VASH just officially announced it would release 9,000 new vouchers for the 2015 program, meaning that fundraising for those areas is ready to go.

If you’re a supporter of Veterans Matter, you’ve probably read something like this before. You might be wondering, “is the money I donate now not going to house a vet until 2015?!”

Have no fear! If you donate now, the money you give will go directly toward a vet who’s in need at this very moment.

Every year, HUD-VASH releases a new number of vouchers based on their fiscal year budget and the evaluated need of each region, but the vouchers from the previous year are carried over to the next year. So new vouchers for this coming year mean more opportunities to raise money and support our homeless veterans.

But how exactly does the HUD-VASH program work?

Let’s start from the beginning.

The HUD-VASH program was started in 1992 as a joint effort between the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). By joining forces, the program is able to utilize housing vouchers provided by the HUD in conjunction with VA-funded, veteran-exclusive services, such as health care, counseling, and case management. The VA also sits on the Interagency Council to End Homelessness, a federal agency dedicated to ending homelessness by 2015. Together, these efforts have been combined to help provide not only housing to homeless veterans, but personal assistance in regaining the skills and stability to retain domestic autonomy. Vets work directly with a case manager once housed to assess physical/mental needs and to create a housing stabilization plan, which is an integral part of the vet’s journey to re-acclimation.

Every year the program releases around 10,000 new vouchers based on the fiscal year budget and confirmed need. These vouchers essentially guarantee eligible veterans long-term housing, empowering them to not only leave the cycle of poverty, but break it too.

The one thing that is missing, however, is the initial rental deposit most landlords require before move-in. The HUD-VASH program’s budget doesn’t cover these deposits. That means veterans often have to utilize a number of different federal and local resources, patching together funds to cover the deposit. Seeking these resources requires time and energy, and often prolongs the amount of time any homeless veteran spends on the street.

This is where Veterans Matter comes in. Ken Leslie saw a gap, and realized there was a simple solution: raise money and work directly with HUD-VASH to efficiently route funds to the next vet ready to be housed. No waiting, no worrying about when they can spend a night in their own home.

An efficient, cloud-based system was then created for routing funds quickly enough to house a vet the same day. But Veterans Matter only works to house homeless vets where vouchers are available. Once we’ve funded the number of vouchers in one area, we move onto the next one.

So this 2015 release of vouchers means Veterans Matter has a lot of work to do in the coming year. Join us in helping bridge the gap from homelessness to domestic autonomy. Veterans matter, and we must take care of our own.