Homeless veterans receive special consideration for Section 8 housing under the joint program run under the auspices of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Veterans Administration Supportive Housing. Known as HUD-VASH, these section 8 housing vouchers offer rental assistance in the private market specifically for homeless vets and their families.
Housing Voucher Eligibility
Eligibility for the Section 8 housing voucher depends upon the VA, which makes the determination regarding each veteran. The veteran also must meet the criteria of the McKinney -Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Requirements include:
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- Lacking a regular nighttime address
- Living in a shelter situation. This may include a government-run or charitable facility, or temporary housing like vouchered hotels
- Living in a place not designed for human habitation, such as a motor vehicle
- In imminent danger -- considered to be within two weeks -- of losing current housing by evidence of a court order or credible oral statements from the veteran.
Homeless veterans and their family members must meet the low-income criteria for the area in which they are staying.
Although criminal background checks are not otherwise required, no veteran subject to lifelong registration as a sex offender is eligible for the HUD-VASH program.
How It Works
Regional housing authorities are given a certain amount of housing vouchers set aside for qualifying homeless vets. There usually is a waiting list for these vouchers. For example, Phoenix received 863 HUD-VASH vouchers in 2015. As of the time of publication, their entire Section 8 waiting list was closed to new applicants. The entire state of Massachusetts received only 92 vouchers.
In 2014, approximately 50,000 veterans nationwide received rental help through HUD-VASH, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. While 340,000 veterans received housing assistance overall, only those 50,000 were not part of mainstream Section 8 programs to help the poor, elderly and those with disabilities.
To get help in applying for Section 8 housing, contact your local VA Medical Center. You also can call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, at 1-877-4AID-VET, or 1-877-424-3838. You can't apply to the program directly through your local housing authority -- the VA must make the recommendation.