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HUD-VASH Program Making a Difference in Helping Our Neediest Veterans

Pictured, from left to right, Andrea Hodge, MSW, HUD HR Specialist/Veterans Coordinator; VANYHHS-based Intensive Case Workers Farah Samimy, LCSW and Michal Cohen, LCSW; Army Veteran Karen McDaniel Allen; and, VANYHHS-based Intensive Case Worker Jonathan Kessler, LCSW

The New York Regional Office's 2011 Employee Recognition Ceremony, held at 7 World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, took the occasion to highlight the success of its joint program with the Veterans Administration to find permanent housing for homeless veterans. The ceremony included a welcome by Regional Administrator Adolfo Carrión, who introduced a surprise guest, HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims, who lauded the work of HUD Regional staff who are "making a difference" in people's lives across the region.

"I am proud of the work we are doing to house homeless veterans. These men and women who have served and sacrificed so much for our country deserve nothing less from us," said Carrión. "Working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, we are doing our part to provide these veterans the housing and the tools they need to gain self-sufficiency. I can think of no better gift at the onset of winter than a safe and secure home for our most deserving fellow Americans."

HUD's Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) combines a HUD Housing Choice Voucher with VA case management and supportive services. The program is designed to assist homeless veterans find permanent housing through the Department's rental assistance program that connects homeless veterans from local Veterans
Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC) with rental assistance vouchers provided by local public housing agencies. VA Medical Centers identify eligible candidates for public housing authorities, which administer the vouchers. Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. The VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

This is the third year HUD is supporting the housing and service needs of homeless veterans across America through HUD-VASH with a total investment of $225 million that will sustain approximately 30,000 rental assistance vouchers. Since the program's inception, over 1,000 homeless veterans residing in New York City have found permanent housing, plus another 340 homeless veterans in upstate and western New York have found permanent housing.

Below is one local veteran, pictured above, who benefited from the HUD/VASH program was

The Story of Karen McDaniel Allen

HUD-VASH Intensive Case Worker Jonathan Kessler, LCSW, admires his client U.S. Army Veteran Karen McDaniel Allen. "She's a warrior who has had the courage to overcome many difficult challenges life has thrown in her path," says Kessler.

Mrs. McDaniel Allen served in the Army in Texas, Louisiana, and Colorado before leaving active duty in 1989. She was on inactive reserve until 1992. Shortly after her discharge, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent 18 months of radiation and chemotherapy. After the cancer, Mrs. McDaniel Allen suffered from edema and several other health problems. "It was seven or eight years before I got my life back on track," she recalls.

After finally returning to good health, Mrs. McDaniel Allen was confronted with new obstacles. Her landlord abandoned the apartment building she lived in with her husband and daughter. The water heaters broke, the roof leaked, and the electric lines were damaged. Her husband got injured on his job and then laid off. The stress made it hard for her daughter to focus in school. Finally, Mrs. McDaniel Allen got laid off from her own job, making it impossible for them to rent a better home. They stayed in the building as squatters until it was foreclosed.

But the bad luck streak ended there. Two years ago, Mrs. McDaniel Allen went to the VA and learned about the HUD-VASH program, a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Supported Housing Program. Now the family uses one of the 20,000 "Housing Choice" Section 8 vouchers to help with their rent.

The spotless home provides stability for Mrs. McDaniel Allen's daughter as she continues school in the Bronx. Mrs. McDaniel Allen is studying for a Master's degree in education, accepting jobs from a boutique as a seamstress repairing sequined ball gowns. She also works as a substitute teacher and runs a fashion education program, teaching kids how to work with textiles. At night, she returns to her family's spacious home, furnished with donations from the Jericho project. She says she sleeps better at night, feels hopeful about life again, and focuses her attention on giving back to the community.

(Karen's story was written by Bronwen Tomb, US Coast Guard Veteran, VANYHHS Volunteer and Columbia School of Journalism student.)


Content Archived: December 3, 2013

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