WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs awarded $11.5 million in legal services grants for Veterans experiencing or at-risk of homelessness as part of its national homeless prevention efforts.
These first-of-their-kind funds, available through VA’s new Legal Services for Veterans Grant Program, were awarded to 79 public or non-profit organizations that will help Veterans in several ways, including:
- Providing representation in landlord-tenant disputes to prevent eviction
- Assisting with court proceedings for child support, custody, or estate planning.
- Helping Veterans obtain public benefits, including disability compensation.
- Defending Veterans in criminal cases that can prolong or increase their risk of homelessness, such as outstanding warrants, fines, or driver’s license revocation.
- Assisting with requests to upgrade characterization of discharges or dismissals of former members of the Armed Forces.
Ending Veteran homelessness is a top priority of VA and President Biden, who has made supporting Veterans a key pillar of his Unity Agenda for the nation. In 2022 alone, VA housed more than 40,000 formerly homeless Veterans, prevented more than 17,700 Veterans and their families from falling into homelessness, and helped nearly 191,700 additional Veteran families who were experiencing financial difficulties retain their homes or avoid foreclosure. Thanks in part to these efforts, the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness has fallen by 11% since early 2020 and by more than 55% since 2010. In 2023, VA has set a goal to house at least 38,000 Veterans.
“For Veterans, legal support can be the difference between becoming homeless and having safe, stable housing,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “With the award of these first-of-their-kind VA grants, more Veterans will have the legal representation they deserve — which will increase their access to housing and employment.”
This initiative is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s broader efforts to reduce homelessness for all Americans by 25% by 2025 and advance protections for renters. These grants were created as a part of VA’s implementation of the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D., Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, which authorized VA to award each recipient up to $150,000 in grant funds, with at least 10% of funding being utilized for women Veterans.
The grant recipients successfully competed under a Notice of Funding Opportunity published Oct. 6, 2022. Each grantee was permitted to apply funding to support legal services starting August 1, 2023.
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