- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2016

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Veterans Affairs announced a $5.9 million grant on Friday to help homeless Native American veterans receive permanent homes and supportive services.

The award, part of Opening Doors, President Obama’s 2010 plan to end veteran homelessness in the country, will help 500 Native American veterans in 26 tribes across 12 states.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced the grant during the winter meeting of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“By targeting resources directly to tribes, we can better honor the service and sacrifice of Native American veterans who now need a roof over their heads,” Mr. Castro said. “These heroes deserve hope for a brighter future, and by offering permanent housing solutions, combined with needed services and case management, we can work with tribes to end veteran homelessness.”

The 26 tribes that won awards will manage the housing vouchers provided by HUD and distribute them to members who require them on tribal lands.

The HUD-VASH housing vouchers are an interagency effort between HUD and the VA that rapidly rehouse veterans who have fallen into homelessness and give them counseling, clinical help, job support and other services to help them maintain their housing.

Native American veterans have historically been neglected in the effort to end homelessness, and the award opens up lines of communication between the federal agencies and the tribes to reach veterans who need assistance. The grant will specifically be used for veterans who live on or near a reservation or other designated Native American land.

The Native American tribes will also be providing healthcare to eligible veterans as part of a partnership with the VA, according to the VA.

“Targeting HUD-VASH vouchers to veterans living on tribal lands opens new opportunities for helping Native American veterans exit homelessness as quickly as possible,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said. “We are pleased that recent statutory changes to the HUD-VASH program made it possible to award these vouchers for use within Indian Country, where Native American veterans have existing support systems that can be aided by those provided under the HUD-VASH Program to help the veterans remain stably housed.”

The housing voucher program has helped 90,000 veterans by awarding more than 79,000 vouchers since 2008, a VA representative said. This grant is part of a demonstration program Congress authorized in 2015 to expand housing vouchers to Indian country.

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