U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Julián Castro, Secretary
Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20410
HUD No. 16-XXX FOR RELEASE
Heather Fluit Friday
202-708-0685 January 8, 2016
HUD AND VA AWARD $5.9 MILLON TO 26 TRIBES TO PROVIDE PERMANENT HOMES
FOR NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS
Tribal HUD-VASH to assist more than 500 Native American Veterans
WASHINGTON – For the first time, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today awarded $5.9 million in grants to 26 tribes to offer a permanent home and supportive services to Native American Veterans who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. The Tribal HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (Tribal HUD-VASH) Program is a demonstration program that will combine $5.9 million in rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA to serve 522 Native American Veterans.
HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced the winners in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the winter meeting of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes.
“By targeting resources directly to tribes, we can better honor the service and sacrifice of Native American Veterans who now need a roof over their heads,” said Castro. “These heroes deserve hope for a brighter future, and by offering permanent housing solutions, combined with needed services and case management, we can work with Tribes to end veteran homelessness.”
HUD invited 30 eligible tribes to seek Tribal HUD-VASH vouchers to help house and serve hundreds of Native American Veterans who are currently experiencing homelessness or at extreme risk of becoming homeless. Twenty-six tribes, from Alaska to New Mexico, will deliver and manage the housing vouchers among their members who need them, on tribal lands.
“Targeting HUD-VASH vouchers to Veterans living on tribal lands opens new opportunities for helping Native American Veterans exit homelessness as quickly as possible” said Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert McDonald. “We are pleased that recent statutory changes to the HUD-VASH Program made it possible to award these vouchers for use within Indian Country, where Native American Veterans have existing support systems that can be aided by those provided under the HUD-VASH Program to help the Veterans remain stably housed.”
Since 2008, more than 79,000 vouchers have been awarded and approximately 90,000 homeless Veterans have been served through the broader HUD-VASH program. Rental assistance and supportive services provided through HUD-VASH are a critical resource for local communities in ending homelessness among our nation’s Veterans. In FY2015, Congress authorized funding for a demonstration program in order to expand the HUD-VASH program into Indian Country and directed HUD to coordinate with Indian tribes, tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs), and other appropriate tribal organizations on the design of this program, and to ensure the effective delivery of housing assistance and supportive services to eligible Native American Veterans.
The Tribal HUD-VASH Program will provide rental assistance and supportive services to Native American Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness living on or near a reservation or other Indian areas. HUD is making available $5.9 million in grant funding to Indian tribes and TDHEs to fund rental assistance and associated administrative fees. Indian tribes and TDHEs participating in this program will partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide healthcare assistance to eligible Native American Veterans.
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Q: How many tribes were invited to apply and how many won?
A: HUD invited 30 tribes to apply. With today’s announcement, twenty-six tribes will be awarded a share of the $5.9 million in total funding.
Q: How did HUD choose the applicants and the grantees?
A: Similar to the standard HUD-VASH program, HUD identified eligible applicants based on the number of veterans reported for a given tribal area. Applicants were selected for grants based on a tribe’s capacity to administer this program and other factors outlined in the Federal Register Notice announcing the demonstration program. HUD also looked across its six Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) regions, to ensure geographic representation.
Q: Why didn’t HUD compete this funding?
A: To compete the funding for a relatively small pool of vouchers for the pilot program would have meant substantial delays in getting this grant assistance into the communities that urgently need them.
Q: Do you expect to expand this beyond a pilot?
A: Additional Tribal HUD-VASH funding was not allocated in the year-end funding bill that passed through Congress last month. However, the severe housing needs on tribal lands are significantly outpacing the resources that are available.
To better understand and address the housing needs in tribal communities, HUD is working now to complete a national survey of Indian housing needs. This will be the most complete national housing survey of American Indians and Native Alaskans on tribal lands since 1996. . The study will better inform our policies and help HUD serve these tribes more effectively.
Q: Why is a new program needed to administer HUD-VASH on tribal lands? Couldn’t the current HUD-VASH program serve that function?
A: Certainly, Native American veterans would be eligible for the HUD-VASH program, but a tailored program that allows tribes to manage the HUD-VASH housing resources rather than a public housing authority is a more efficient and effective way to deploy this assistance.
Q: HUD consistently requests a flat amount of funding for Indian Housing Block Grants each year (around $600-650 million). If the housing needs on tribal lands are so clear, why does HUD consistently request inadequate funding?
A: I’ve seen firsthand the urgent need for safe, affordable housing in Indian Country. It’s clear there is too often a fundamental lack of housing in these communities, and the housing that does exist can be overcrowded or substandard. We absolutely want to see a greater investment in housing needs through the Indian Housing Block Grants. The President did increase the IHBG request for FY16 to $660 million, and supported a total of $748 million in direct support for housing and economic development in Indian Country.
While the need for housing on tribal lands is much greater than the limited resources available, I am deeply committed to helping our tribal partners increase their resources and find new opportunities to spur economic opportunity and growth. Our work is far from finished, but we will continue to be strong partners to create a solid foundation of decent, livable housing within tribal communities.
Q: American Indians and Alaska Natives raise their hand to serve in our military at a higher rate than other ethnicities, yet are also more likely to lack health insurance, have a bachelor’s degree or a job. Why aren’t more permanent solutions being put forth to address these challenges for a population that readily serves our country?
A: We have a responsibility to serve these brave men and women who have put their lives on the line to keep us safe. It is absolutely unacceptable that any veteran would come home to no job prospects and little access to quality healthcare or education. HUD is continuing its work to expand economic opportunity and improve quality of life through its block grants and other funding for specifically for Indian Country, and also taking new steps like Tribal HUD-VASH to better serve the unique needs of our Native veterans in tribal communities.