The Department of Veterans Affairs recently rolled out a new subsidy program that will provide eligible low income veterans with two years of rent assistance! This is designed to help prevent veteran homelessness in high-rent areas.
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Who is eligible for the VA rent subsidy?
This program is available for low income, formerly homeless veterans who are enrolled in the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Eligible veterans must also live in an area that has a lot of homelessness and very little affordable housing opportunities.
The SSVF program is designed to serve very low income veteran families that are currently in or transitioning into permanent housing. It also helps re-house homeless veteran families or prevent homelessness for those who are at-risk.
What does this VA rent subsidy provide?
This subsidy, called the Shallow Subsidy Initiative, pays a portion of the eligible veteran’s rent. The percentage may vary depending on familial status, such as 10% for single veterans or 35% for veteran families.
Once you are approved for the program and receiving the subsidy, you will continue to receive it for two years. You will not lose the subsidy, even if your income changes.
There are a few rules you need to know about the VA rent subsidy.
Like with most government programs, the VA rent subsidy can be a bit complicated. Here are some things that you need to know about this program before you apply.
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Grant money is given to agencies, who give it to your landlord.
This VA program disburses grant funds to various community agencies. The amount of subsidy that each veteran receives is determined by the community agency that oversees the program in your area.
In fact, the community agency has great latitude over how the program is administered in your area. Some rules and regulations may vary, depending on where you live.
You cannot transfer the subsidy to a new area.
The subsidy is not portable. It can only be used in areas defined in the federal register. Once you are approved in one area, you cannot take the subsidy with you if you move to a new area.
Your subsidy may be adjusted if you move into smaller or larger housing.
The dollar amount of your subsidy may be adjusted if you move into larger or smaller housing. The rules require the agency to adjust the amount of subsidy paid if you move into a smaller unit. If you move into a larger one, though, they can (but do not have to) adjust the dollar amount they pay toward your rent.
The subsidy does not adjust for rent increases.
According to the published rules, the subsidy is based on a Fair Market Rent for the unit. That FMR is determined at the time the Shallow Subsidy begins and it is not adjusted during the two-year period, even if the FMR increases or decreases during that time.
There are several ways you can lose the Shallow Subsidy.
You may be removed from the VA rent subsidy program if:
- You move outside of the Shallow Subsidy community you were approved in.
- You obtain a permanent subsidized housing voucher (Section 8, etc).
- You move into a project-based subsidized housing unit.
- You are incarcerated or institutionalized for more than 90 days.
This is a housing first program.
The VA rent subsidy is a Housing First program, which means that it is not contingent on employment or other requirements that other subsidy programs may have. It is designed to provide stable housing so that other services can be offered.
Where is the VA rent subsidy available?
The VA rent subsidy is currently only available in these areas:
- California: Alameda (including Oakland), Contra Costa, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara
- Hawaii: Honolulu
- Illinois: Cook County
- New York: New York City and Bronx, Queens, Kings and Richmond Counties
- Washington: Seattle
- Washington DC
How can you sign up for the VA rent subsidy?
If you are interested in this program, you will need to contact the Homeless Programs Office at your local VA medical center. You can also call the hotline for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838).