HUD-VASH Gives Homeless Veteran Hope for Housing and Better Future

The HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program is a relatively new cross agency initiative that helps homeless veterans by offering them not only housing, but also supportive services. These supportive services offer the type of assistance that many chronically homeless veterans need to overcome the obstacles that have led them, and sometimes their families, into homelessness.

HUD-VASH meetings are held in Kentucky regularly to strengthen alliances among agencies that administer the program. This ensures that all of the vouchers allocated to Kentucky are used by the veterans who need them in a timely and effective manner.

During a recent HUD-VASH meeting, Laurie Hardin, a Veterans Affairs (VA) caseworker in Louisville, Kentucky, shared the success story of a HUD-VASH voucher recipient. Laurie spoke about a chronically homeless veteran with schizophrenia as well as substance abuse issues who sought assistance from the VA in November 2012.

The veteran identified the goal of getting housing since he was continually living on the streets. Because he was actively abusing substances and not taking his medications, he had been banned from shelters for his behavior, which often resulted from psychosis with grandiose delusions. This made it hard for Laurie to locate him at times and nearly impossible for her to meet with him for appointments.

Eventually his behavior brought him into the legal system. This gave Laurie an opportunity to have some direct conversations with him about housing and moving toward stability when he was in the county jail on misdemeanor charges (e.g., public intoxication, loitering, trespassing, etc.). She made every effort to consistently talk with him about getting a voucher and even completed the paperwork for a voucher one day after he was released from jail.

Unfortunately, he subsequently went back to jail for several months related to a more serious disorderly conduct charge. Laurie did not stop providing assistance and continued to visit him in jail and kept his voucher while he went through a competency review and spent significant time in a hospital getting stabilized. The VA then activated his housing voucher 3½ months after Laurie had requested it.

He was released after 2½ months in jail and now appears to be more stable than ever. He continued to hold on to the hope that he would soon get housing and began to take his medication regularly and has been abstinent from substance abuse as well.

He has chosen an apartment that he would like to rent and is very close to achieving his housing goal. Until then, he continues to maintain his stability in a shelter and remains in contact with Laurie.

Laurie truly believes that the continuous engagement and outreach combined with the reassurance that a HUD-VASH voucher was available helped him to make better choices and have optimism for the future. Sometimes just the hope of attaining permanent housing and knowing someone cares can have an enormous impact on the quality of another's life.

By: David Railey (HUD Kentucky Field Office) and Laurie Hardin (Robley Rex VA Medical Center)


Content Archived: September 16, 2014