By Darrell Mayo, SSVF Veteran Advocate
Helping Veterans with their long-term care to escape homelessness is a team effort. Not only must they overcome their individual troubles such as drug and alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other ailments – but many Veterans must also learn to navigate through their lives while also having limited income.
The Veterans Affairs (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, WestCare Iowa Family Alliance for Veterans of America (FAVA), provides a short to medium range plan. It is designed to help Veterans get back on their feet and hopefully allow them to then stand up on their own. Unfortunately, some of them require more help over longer periods of time than the SSVF program can provide. To help Veterans long-term, WestCare relies on our community partners such as the staff of the Housing and Urban Development & the Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program to continue to help homeless Veterans after they have completed our SSVF program.
The Sioux City WestCare-Iowa/FAVA staff is proud to work with our local VA HUD-VASH representatives, Alexa Lewis and Angie McElmuray Dundee. Alexa is the Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) social worker while Angie is the HUD-VASH case manager for Sioux City’s VA community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC). HUD-VASH is a collaborative program between HUD and the VA that provides up to 30 vouchers for homeless Veterans and their families in Sioux City to find and sustain permanent housing as they remain eligible and compliant with the program.
WestCare’s SSVF program is designed to assist Veterans by helping them find housing and then paying their rent, deposits, and utilities for anywhere between one to nine months depending on the circumstances surrounding the Veteran. If they are eligible for HUD-VASH, then they can then use their voucher for years allowing them to only pay up to one third of their income for housing. Some Veterans in Sioux City are surviving off $400 to $800 a month and by only having to pay a third of their income for housing, it allows them to survive while continuing to remain housed. Once a Veteran begins HUD/VASH, they are no longer eligible for rental assistance through the SSVF program. WestCare’s Veteran Advocates must work closely with Alexa and Angie to ensure that there is no gap in the timing of transferring from the SSVF program to HUD/VASH services.
It has been a pleasure working with and seeing the dedication and care that is provided by Alexa and Angie. They do ensure our nation’s at-risk or homeless veterans are taken care of after leaving WestCare’s SSVF program.