Program offers help for homeless veterans

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As many as 65 homeless veterans in southwestern Pennsylvania will get help in paying for housing through a federal rental assistance program.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $58.6 million last week to assist 8,000 veterans across the country through their local public housing agencies.

The Allegheny County Housing Authority is in line to receive $200,154 and the Lawrence County Housing Authority will get $57,443 to assist veterans being served by the Pittsburgh and Butler Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. The vouchers will aid 50 veterans in Allegheny County and another 15 in Lawrence County.

The effort is called the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program. The program, now in its third year, has distributed $225 million in rental assistance vouchers.

"We owe every man and woman who has worn our nation's military uniforms a level of courage and determination that matches theirs as we work to end veteran homelessness," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement.

Once the HUD rental vouchers are distributed to the housing authorities, those agencies will work the local VA medical centers to identify eligible participants. Under the HUD-VASH program, veterans will be able to rent privately owned housing and pay no more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent.

Case managers at VA medical centers will work with the housing agencies to help veterans find rental units and provide support services.

"Though they served and sacrificed so much for our country, too many of our veterans find themselves on the streets and in homeless shelters," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement. "These vouchers will provide a more permanent solution to housing and services these veterans need."

HUD expects to announce a second round of voucher funding next month.

Len Barcousky: or 724-772-0184.


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