Veterans are an integral and yet overlooked population in California. In fact, an astonishing 14 percent of homeless people in San Diego are veterans. Veterans have a higher chance of becoming homeless due to their higher rate of brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. These veterans deserve better treatment for their service and sacrifice than being left out on the street.
To that end, the federal government has allocated $10.5 million in grants as part of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program. The VASH program is a joint project between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veteran Affairs created to assist veterans with finding suitable housing.
This program works by granting rental assistance vouchers to veterans for rent on privately owned properties. The veterans must be eligible for VA health services and they must be homeless. Over 80,000 veterans nationwide were using these vouchers by the end of 2019.
About $3.8 million of those funds will be coming to San Diego to find solutions for the veteran homelessness problem. More specifically, $2.5 million of that money will be going to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency while the other $1.3 million will go to the San Diego Housing Commission. The plan is to use the money to provide rent assistance to 175 veterans in San Diego County. This assistance includes drug and alcohol rehabilitation, counseling, and lessons in finance for these veterans getting back on their feet.
Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and in exchange, they have been treated as outcasts all too often. If veterans were taken care of properly, then this federal money would not even be necessary. Thankfully, the problem is finally being taken more seriously—and this money is a small fraction of what these veterans deserve from us.