PRESS RELEASE: The Department of Veterans Affairs announced last week the award of $1,176,242 in grant money to Asset Building Network, Inc. of Houston, one of 38 projects around the country that will provide temporary housing to formerly homeless Veterans with the goal that they will retain the residence as their own.

“We are committed to ending Veteran homelessness in America,” said Adam C. Walmus, M.H.A., M.A., F.A.C.H.E. Medical Center director. “This grant will help the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and our community partners reach out and assist at-risk Veterans.”

The grant to Asset Building Network, Inc. will be used to provide a daily average of 25 beds for homeless Veterans to promote increased housing stabilization. Housing will be provided at 12211 Fondren Road, Houston, TX.

The grants were awarded through a special program that gives Veterans the opportunity to take over payment of a lease instead of moving out after leaving certain VA programs, such as substance use counseling, mental health services, or job training. Usually, VA programs require Veterans living in transitional housing to move out after 24 months.

Called the “Transition in Place” model, it helps close the gaps in available housing for the nation’s most vulnerable homeless Veterans, including women Veterans with children and Veterans with substance use and mental health problems.

“Securing permanent housing is a vital step in the journey of our homeless Veterans,” said Laura Marsh, M.D., Mental Health Care Line executive. “This is the last piece of the puzzle.  It is crucial for them in continuing to lead independent lives.”

Under the program, funds go to community-based programs that provide homeless Veterans with support services and housing. VA’s focus is creating and strengthening community services around the country so that homeless Veterans get the support they need.

“Our focus is creating a team of community support — pairing a variety of services, such as mental health support, employment assistance, and job training — with the essential component of housing,” said Luis Paulino, Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program director.

Less than 15 percent of all homeless adults in the United States are Veterans.  VA’s efforts have contributed to a significant reduction in the numbers of homeless Veterans. Although many homeless Veterans served in combat and suffer from PTSD; at this time, epidemiologic studies do not suggest that there is a causal connection between military service, service in Vietnam, or exposure to combat and homelessness among Veterans.  Family background, access to support from family and friends, and various personal characteristics, rather than military service seem to be the stronger indicators of risk of homelessness.

VA is the only federal agency that provides substantial hands-on assistance directly to homeless Veterans.  VA’s major homeless programs constitute the largest integrated network of homeless assistance programs in the country, offering a wide array of services to help Veterans recover from homelessness and live as self-sufficiently and independently as possible.

If you know a Veteran who needs assistance, please call 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838) or the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program at 713-794-7848. More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at http://www.houston.va.gov/Homeless_Programs.asp.