New York City's Department of Veterans' Services & Housing Authority Celebrate First Year of Pioneer Program to House Disconnected Veterans

DVS and NYCHA mark the first full year of the "HUD-VASH Continuum" program, the first City in the nation implementing such a program

New York – The New York City Department of Veterans' Services and the New York City Housing Authority celebrate the first full year of the Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Continuum program, an initiative to create paths to permanent housing for disconnected veterans and their families.

New York City was selected by HUD and the VA in 2017 as the first city in the country to test pilot the program, with the first veteran receiving their voucher and new apartment last October. Over this past year, NYCHA, DVS and their partners were able to secure housing assistance for over 100 veterans and families who had been disconnected from support services due to ineligibility based on length of time in military service or their discharge status.

The HUD-VASH Continuum program was especially needed in New York City, where 30-40% of veterans without permanent housing are not eligible for VA vouchers. These disconnected veterans had remained in limbo in municipal and nonprofit facilities – for over a year on average – unable to be connected to resources for housing. Once provided a VASH Continuum voucher and given DVS peer to peer support, these veterans were able to find permanent, affordable housing in just 74 days. This program has been especially successful in assisting female veterans who are disproportionately disconnected to services, and senior veterans who have made up 41% of the applicants to date.

New York City was selected for the Continuum pilot because of NYCHA's success in utilizing standard VASH vouchers with the local VA, and because of its capacity to find and house disconnected veterans through its existing network of public-private partners. Overall, NYCHA has 2,809 vouchers currently in use, over 100 of which are through the Continuum program with DVS and their community partners.

Specifically, the key partners in this program were HELP USA and their funder, the Robin Hood Foundation. Together, they committed to HELP USA creating a program that provides support to these veterans in their transition to housing and for their long-term housing stability.

"The VASH Continuum program is an innovative, community-based approach to filling a significant resource gap," remarked NYC Department of Veterans' Services Commissioner Loree Sutton, MD, Brigadier General (ret., US Army). "This initiative is proof that we can work across agencies and governmental jurisdictions to achieve a shared goal of leaving no veteran behind. We are proud that New York City was chosen as the first in the nation to demonstrate how municipalities can use their collective resources to help disconnected veterans rebuild their lives."

New York City Housing Authority Executive Vice-President for Leased Housing Lakesha Miller said, "Partnering with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the NYC Department of Veterans' Services on the VASH-Continuum initiative has been a display of what effective coordination and service delivery looks like. Each entity has invested the time necessary to make this initiative a success for the men and women who have served our country. Thank you all for a year of great partnership. It has been an honor to provide qualified homeless veterans with Section 8 rental assistance for a safe and secure place to call home."

New York State Assemblyman Michael G. DenDekker said, "Every year, thousands of veterans without stable housing fall through the cracks of the system due to ineligibility for existing programs and do not receive any much-needed assistance. It is a credit to New York City's Department of Veterans' Services that they have been working with HUD and the VA to launch the VASH pilot program, which has already helped over 100 veterans and their families pay for housing. We have much work to do to keep our veterans in permanent housing, but this program is a promising start."

New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, Chair of the Committee on Veterans said, "The first year of the HUD-VASH Continuum program in New York City was an inarguable success, with more than 100 veterans placed into housing through a partnership between DVS, NYCHA, Help USA, and the Robin Hood Foundation. New York City has made enormous gains in the effort to house our veterans and ensure that they have access to resources that can help them obtain housing, employment, and health care. I'm grateful to Commissioner Loree Sutton and her team for setting an example for municipalities across the country as it relates to services for veterans."

Robin Hood CEO Wes Moore said, "As a former Army paratrooper and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I've seen firsthand the unique challenges that those who serve encounter when they return home, including the harm that veterans face when they don't have a home," said Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood. "At Robin Hood, we're proud to be a part of the Continuum initiative and grateful for the outcomes we've been able to produce through this public-private partnership."

"Without access to this program, and aftercare services that enhances long-term success of housing for Veterans, housing stability would continue to be a barrier for hundreds of NYC's homeless veteran population," remarked Jahmila Martin, Program Director, Veterans Aftercare Program, Help USA.

Background

In 2016, in recognition of the need to better serve New York City's more than 210,000 veterans and their families, Mayor de Blasio stood up the New York City Department of Veterans Services (DVS), the first new city agency in over twenty years. DVS' directive is to improve the lives of all veterans and their families, working to match them with the programs and services to support fulfilling and purpose-driven lives. DVS' Housing and Support Services unit leads and supports initiatives focused on providing permanent, affordable housing to veterans, starting with veterans most in need. Get more information on the HUD-VASH Continuum program.

About the New York City Department of Veteran' Services

The New York City's Department of Veterans' Services (DVS) strives to improve the lives of all veterans and their families, regardless of discharge status. DVS operates as a centralized hub able to put veterans at the center of all our efforts, coordinating services with a range of agencies at the City, state, and federal level, as well as through public-private partnerships. Our mission is straightforward: to foster purpose-driven lives for NYC service members, veterans, and their families through: effective connections with the NYC community; targeted advocacy at the local, state, and national level; compassionate service, ensuring we make it easier to access services and benefits they've earned. We believe veterans are civic assets whose strength and demonstrated commitment to public service help NYC thrive. For more information on the New York City Department of Veterans' Services, please visit our website at www.nyc.gov/vets, visit us at 1 Centre Street, Suite 2208, New York, NY, call 212-416-5250, or follow us on social media @nycveterans.

About the New York City Housing Authority

The New York City Housing Authority's mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. More than 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA's 326 public housing developments across the City's five boroughs. Another 235,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA-administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program. To fulfill this mission and better serve residents while facing dramatic reductions in traditional government funding, NYCHA is developing new financing options and building innovative partnerships across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. These strategies help NYCHA address many key challenges, from preserving aging housing stock through timely maintenance and modernization of buildings to increasing resident access to a multitude of community, educational and recreational programs, and job readiness and training initiatives