Veterans are often disproportionately represented among those ‘at risk’ of homelessness every year, and on any given night, more than 9,600 veterans experience homelessness in California.
Despite their service to our country, some have not found their footing in the civilian world and have found themselves on the streets. Additionally, of the approximately 104,000 extremely low-income veteran’s households in California, 74 percent are considered ‘severely burdened households’ that spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing.
In 2014, California voters passed Proposition 41, approving $600 million to build or rehabilitate housing for veterans experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
“The State of California is committed to ending homelessness for our veterans and their families and the VHHP program is part of the solution,” said California Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. Vito Imbasciani. “This program offers veterans much more than four walls and a roof. It offers comprehensive services to veterans in need, making it more than just a homeless housing program but a way to keep veterans off the streets over the long term.”
“The affordable housing crisis touches the lives of thousands of California residents throughout the state with veterans and their families among those hardest hit,” said Keith Boylan, Deputy Secretary for Veterans Services at CalVet. “The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention program targets those regions most affected and provides funding to develop housing facilities where the need is greatest.”
With most construction projects, affordable housing developers partner with other community and county stakeholders for additional funding and support. Most developments include supportive services to assist veterans and their families achieve housing stability and improve self-sufficiency. These services may include mental health, financial literacy, legal services and more, to address the underlying issues in many veterans’ lives that contribute to homelessness.
As a requirement, at least half of the housing built or rehabilitated in a VHHP project must be directed to veterans and their families with very low-income, and 60% of those units must be reserved for veterans who are homeless.
“This historic program requires affordable housing developers, project/residential managers and service providers to collaborate,” said Theresa Gunn, Deputy Secretary for the Home Loan Program at CalVet. “Through this model, the affordable housing community is developing much needed competency and awareness to serve veterans for the foreseeable future.”
With the passage of Proposition 41, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, the California Housing Finance Agency, and CalVet are tasked with jointly managing the program, to include developing the standards and guidelines for how developers use the funds awarded.
Since 2014, the VHHP program has awarded approximately $240 million to help build or rehabilitate 63 sites that will house and support veterans. Upon completion of those projects, VHHP will have added 2,500 housing units for veterans and their families throughout the state.
One project, Potter’s Lane, is the first modular construction apartment building in California utilizing shipping containers. The 54 prefabricated modules opened in February 2017 in Los Angeles and became home to 15 veterans who were formerly homeless. Each unit uses two modules in the design and the contractors added a community kitchen, laundry room, and a room for the property manager.
- C. project that turns shipping containers into homeless housing is dedicated — Los Angeles Times
- How these shipping containers converted to housing have affected homeless veterans — Orange County Register
- Sleek Apartments Made Of Shipping Containers To House Homeless Vets — Huffington Post
Other VHHP projects have begun in Fresno and Palmdale.
- Housing Authority to build apartments for veterans and open new SW Fresno complex — Fresno Bee
- Palmdale announces plans for “Courson Arts Colony” veterans housing project — Antelope Valley Times
The VHHP program does not provide funding directly to individuals.
If you are a veteran in need of assistance, please contact the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Nation Call Center for Homeless Veterans Hotline at 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838) or call CalVet at (877) 741-8532.
For more information on the VHHP program, please read the CalVet Proposition 41 Fact Sheet or visit the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Or email CalVet at VHHP@calvet.ca.gov.