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Surge Funding Ends for Some LA Homeless Veteran Programs

The Department of Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Medical Center.
Dept. of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded $300 million to nonprofits nationwide to help reduce veteran homelessness, with $12.3 million going to organizations that serve Los Angeles County.

The grants for fiscal year 2016, announced by the VA on Monday as part of its Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, or SSVF, actually represent a 50 percent reduction compared with so-called surge funding that was provided to some organizations last year.

SSVF provides funds for the purpose of helping veterans find transitional housing, as well as funding homelessness prevention programs. For instance, it can help vets pay the security deposit on new apartment leases and pay for child care for those in need.

For FY2015, the department introduced special "surge funding" of $600 million for 71 communities with high concentrations of homeless veterans.

VA spokesman Michael Huff said that funding was increased "to address the acute need in Los Angeles, and we'll continue to assess the needs in L.A. as we move forward into fiscal year 2016."

Without the surge funding, local nonprofits will actually see cuts of about $36 million combined.

Los Angeles has the highest population of homeless military veterans in the nation. Over 4,300 vets in L.A. lack permanent housing according to the most recent count.

“As the Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, ending veteran homelessness is one of my top priorities in Congress,” Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) said in a statement Tuesday.

“I am pleased to announce these SSVF grants, which will support local organizations that provide supportive services to veterans and their families in our region,” Brownley added.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ own numbers, they allocated $47.8 million in FY2015 to non-profit organizations working in the greater Los Angeles area. Not all of that money went just to L.A., though, as some of those grants covered work in the counties of Orange, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura. The previous year, the entire amount spent on SSVF in the entire state of California was just $38.6 million.

One group, the Volunteers of America of Los Angeles, received $8 million in SSVF grants this year, but will receive just $2 million in FY2016 under the same program.

Total SSVF spending nationwide in FY2015: $592,298,655

Total SSVF grants in the Los Angeles area for FY2015: $47,848,133

Total SSVF spending nationwide planned for FY2016: approximately $300,000,000

Total SSVF grants in the Los Angeles area planned for FY2016: $12,322,631

SSVF is separate from the housing voucher program known as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, or VASH.

Veterans and Military Issues Reporter
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