San Francisco receives $2.7 million in housing vouchers for formerly homeless veterans

Mayor Edwin M. Lee has announced that San Francisco has been awarded 200 vouchers to the San Francisco Housing Authority to provide permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless veterans in San Francisco. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) award of $2,728,301 represents one full year of budget authority with each subsequent year subject to annual appropriations, allowing the City to move forward with a groundbreaking adaptive re-use project that will house veterans in need.

“The men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces deserve the greatest respect and dignity for having sacrificed so much for our country, and San Francisco is committed to making sure our veterans returning home get the services they need, including permanent supportive housing,” said Mayor Lee. “Thank you to President Obama, Leader Pelosi, Secretary Donovan, Secretary Shinseki and our partners for making veterans a priority.”

“Just as our soldiers leave no one behind on the battlefield, we must ensure that no veteran is left behind when they come home. Thanks to President Obama and Democratic efforts in the Congress, 10,000 more homeless veterans will get off the street and into permanent, supportive housing,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “I have been proud to join with Mayor Lee, Bevan Dufty, Swords to Plowshares and the Chinatown Community Development Center in fighting to secure these necessary vouchers which will allow us to transform a surplus City-owned building into permanent, affordable rental housing for chronically homeless and senior veterans.  For San Francisco, this voucher award is a true victory: showcasing our national leadership in addressing veterans homelessness and paving the way for the hallmark Veterans Commons project at 150 Otis.”

“It’s a national disgrace that one out of every six men and women in our shelters once wore a uniform to serve our country,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “But we know that by providing housing assistance and case management services, we can significantly reduce the number of veterans living on our streets. Working together, HUD, VA and local housing agencies are making real progress toward ending veteran homelessness once and for all.”

“Under the leadership of President Obama, we have made significant progress in the fight to end homelessness among veterans, but more work remains,” said U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “The partnership between the federal government and community agencies across the country has strengthened all of our efforts to honor our veterans and keep us on track to prevent and eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015.”

This funding is part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end veteran and long-term chronic homelessness by 2015. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government works with state and local agreements to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women.

Some of the vouchers will be used to provide veterans with rental assistance throughout the City through the San Francisco Housing Authority. The balance of the vouchers will be used to support the Veterans Commons housing project at 150 Otis Street, a new permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless, senior veterans in San Francisco. Spearheaded by community-based non-profit organizations, Swords to Plowshares and Chinatown Community Development Center, the Veterans Commons housing project will provide 75 chronically homeless and senior veterans with permanent homes and wrap-around care.

The property for Veterans Commons, a 95-year old City landmarked building was originally built in 1913 as a juvenile detention center building and recently used by the City’s Human Services Agency as an emergency temporary housing and storage center, was made available through the City’s Surplus Property program and has been supported by the Mayor’s Office of Housing, Human Services Agency and the Department of Public Health. Funders for Veterans Commons include the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program and HUD.

Swords to Plowshares, in conjunction with the San Francisco VA Medical Centers, will provide all services onsite at Veterans Commons, promoting independent living in a highly supportive environment. They will partner to develop wrap-around services ranging from mental and physical health care to employment, benefits, and legal counseling. The San Francisco VA Medical Centers will provide onsite case management services to all VASH voucher recipients at no charge to the resident or to the property. Community rooms, management offices, and supportive service spaces will maximize interaction between residents and staff, encouraging personal development while promoting community.

The HUD-VASH announcement comes directly after the recent tour with Mayor Lee and HUD Assistant Secretary Mercedes Marquez of the construction progress of the Veterans Commons project in February.

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