Homeless veterans take center stage at bipartisan congressional hearing in San Diego
Excerpts from San Diego Union-Tribune article written by Charles Clark:
Veterans’ advocates and housing experts described challenges and possible solutions for sheltering homeless veterans during a bipartisan congressional hearing in Oceanside Thursday.
Panelists also focused on the HUD-VASH program, a housing choice voucher that provides rental assistance to homeless veterans and their families and combines it with Veterans Affairs case management and clinical services.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who is a Marine veteran, told the committee that the VASH program provides critical funding to support veteran households. He asked that they make the program’s funding more secure.
Fletcher added that the federal government could help the VASH
program by finding ways to incentivize landlords to accept the
vouchers, because some landlords are reluctant to participate.
Whole communities also resist efforts to build housing for homeless veterans, Fletcher said. Although people like to support veterans, there is some resistance to building units catering to veterans who suffer from PTSD, substance abuse or some kind of mental illness, experts told the panel.
Fletcher said there need to be more efforts to address the stigma surrounding mental health treatment for veterans.
“We as a society still have a stigma around the unseen wounds of war that is preventing veterans when they transition out from getting help,” Fletcher said.
“Getting that help is what will keep them housed, keep them employed, and keep them with a life of purpose. We have to deal with the downstream issues of those who are suffering.”