VA Issues Grants in the Fight Against Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has awarded $26.8 million in legal services grants to a total of 108 public and non-profit organizations, all with the goal of increasing access to legal services for eligible U.S. veterans experiencing or at risk for homelessness. Click here to view the list of grant award recipients.

The VA home loan program, which recently celebrated its 80th anniversary, has provided more than 28 million loans to veterans to date. Last year alone, veterans obtained 400,000-plus homes loans through this program.

These grant funds, made available as part of VA’s Legal Services for Homeless Veterans and Veterans At-Risk for Homelessness Grant Program, more than double the total dollars and mark a 37% increase in grantees over last year’s inaugural grant cycle.

“Every veteran deserves access to safe, affordable and permanent housing, and we know that legal support is among the most needed services by Veterans experiencing or at risk for homelessness,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “Through these grants, we are working hard to ensure veterans’ unique civil legal needs are met and drive towards our ultimate goal of ending homelessness for all veterans and their families.”

Legal services provided

This grant program is enabled by the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D., Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, and ensures at least 10% of funding supports the provision of legal services for women veterans. Individual grant awards are up to $300,000 for a 14-month grant cycle starting Aug. 1, 2024.

Grant recipients will deliver a variety of legal services to veterans, including:

  • Providing representation in landlord-tenant disputes to prevent eviction.
  • Assisting with court proceedings for child support, custody, or estate planning.
  • Helping veterans obtain benefits like disability compensation.
  • Defending veterans in criminal cases that can prolong or increase their risk of homelessness, such as outstanding warrants, fines, and driver’s license revocation.
  • Upgrading characterization of discharges or dismissals of former members of the Armed Forces.

Legal services are one way VA is working to eliminate veteran homelessness and meet the goal of placing at least 41,000 veterans experiencing homelessness into permanent housing this year.

Building upon recent initiatives

Due to the VA’s efforts, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness has fallen by nearly 5% since early 2020, and by more than 52% since 2010.

The VA recently announced in Circular 26-24-14 that eligible veterans, active-duty servicemembers, and surviving spouses who use VA-guaranteed home loan benefits can pay for certain real estate buyer-broker fees when purchasing a home. Through issuance of Circular 26-24-14 veterans will have the ability to remain competitive and not at a disadvantage in homebuying market due to changes that may result from a recent class-action settlement involving the National Association of Realtors (NAR), slated to take effect later this summer.

Under previous VA policies, veterans using the home loan benefit were prohibited from compensating their professional representative directly. This policy put VA buyers at a disadvantage in situations where offers of compensation are not offered from a seller, potentially forcing them to forego professional representation, choose a different loan product, or be forced to exit the home buying market entirely. The new VA regulations are effective August 10, 2024.

In another action, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the VA jointly announced the availability of $78 million in HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) across the country, for more than 7,000 vouchers. Through the HUD-VASH program, HUD and VA’s mission is to end homelessness by assisting veterans and their families in obtaining permanent and sustainable housing with access to quality healthcare and supportive services, and to ensure that homelessness is otherwise prevented.

The HUD-VASH program combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the VA. VA provides these services for participating veterans at VA medical centers (VAMCs), community-based outreach clinics (CBOCs), through VA contractors, or through other VA designated entities.

The VA also recently issued guidance to encourage mortgage servicers to implement a targeted moratorium on foreclosures for veterans with VA-guaranteed loans through December 31, 2024. This new, targeted foreclosure moratorium will help ensure that U.S. veterans and their families are able to stay in their homes while mortgage servicers implement the Veterans Affairs Servicing Purchase (VASP) program—a new, last-resort tool for qualified veterans experiencing severe financial hardship. Through VASP, VA will purchase qualified veterans’ modified loans from their loan servicers and then place them in the VA-owned portfolio as direct loans—making the loans more affordable for veterans. The VASP program officially launched May 31, and the nation’s mortgage servicers must have it fully implemented by October 1, 2024.

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Eric C. Peck

MortgagePoint Managing Digital Editor Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career in New York City with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage finance space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for
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