May 30, 2013
VASH - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing - vouchers combine rent assistance with case management and clinical services designed to help veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness get back on their feet and into a stable home. Together, the VA and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administer the program. Since 2008, the vouchers have been awarded annually based on need and the performance of the local partners distributing them.
It takes a big community of partners to successfully get VASH vouchers out the door and into the hands of veterans, and to help those veterans find homes with them. Last year, staff at the Portland Housing Bureau saw that there were bottlenecks in our system, and that vouchers weren't being put into use as efficiently as possible. Because of that, our community was leaving federal subsidies on the table, and veterans in need weren't being effectively served. PHB staff convened local partners - Home Forward, the Portland VA, and non-profits - identified the bottlenecks and barriers, and addressed them one by one.
In addition, the City was proud to join Multnomah County, the United Way, and Home Forward in committing $10,000 in flexible funds to the program. That funding, $40,000 in all, supported everything from bus tickets to view apartments to security deposits and other move-in costs. Today, 305 veterans in our community are in a safe and stable home thanks to the team that rallied around the effort, "Operation 305".
In a visit to Portland earlier this year, VA Assistant Secretary Joan Mooney acknowledged the complexity of the VASH program and said that she's never seen a community come together like Portland.
This new award of vouchers is a testament to the team's success and great news for local veterans.