Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mayor Hales State of the City Speech Analysis: Unused VASH Vouchers for Veterans Can Help Reach Goal, But More Resources May be Needed.

In his state of the city speech last week Portland mayor Charlie Hales committed to house all homeless veterans by Veteran's day in 2015.  (Relevant section of speech starts at 40:42 of video HERE).

This apparently follows up on a prior commitment made by the Home for Everyone Executive Committee. (Minutes for their January meeting are not yet posted, so no details available from this source).

A prior Nov 2014 Oregonian story HERE says that the goal is to place 23 veterans per month into housing. 

HUD reports show these counts for homeless veterans in Portland, Gresham, and Multnomah county in 2014:
Homeless Veterans                   412
Sheltered Homeless Veterans    197   
Unsheltered Homeless Veterans 215

The point in time counts for 2015 were recently completed and it seems likely given past work that the unsheltered homeless veteran's count may have declined from 2014. Note that counts above include areas outside of City of Portland, so Portland counts may be less. 

One of the primary tools to deal with Veteran homelessness is the HUD/VA VASH program.

To see how much currently unused VASH vouchers may be able to help to accomplish this goal, I looked at the VASH allocation data posted HERE and it appears to show a total of 446 VASH vouchers allocated to Home Forward to date.  

The January Home Forward board meeting materials HERE includes a dashboard report that shows a total of 334 VASH vouchers leased to date. This is a current utilization rate of 75%, leaving 112 VASH vouchers remaining to be leased to reach 100% lease up. 

Readers may recall my prior March 24 post HERE showing that the Oregon VASH lease up rate of 78% was trailing the national goal of 88%; If Home Forward achieved the national lease up goal of 88%, this would require leasing up 392 vouchers, or an increase of 58 vouchers.

Bottom line: VASH looks like it will help but providing housing for all unsheltered veterans in the city may require resources beyond the VASH program and/OR additional VASH allocations. This may include other HUD or local funds, including existing HUD non VASH housing vouchers or short term rental assistance.

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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