VA Boosts Emergency Assistance to Homeless Veterans During COVID-19 Crisis Following Tester Effort

Ranking Member fought to secure key provisions in the CARES Act to enable VA to assist homeless, or at-risk, veterans

(U.S. Senate) – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will implement provisions secured by U.S. Senator Jon Tester in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to provide immediate relief to veterans experiencing—or at-risk of—homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of our nation’s most vulnerable veterans are experiencing homelessness—made even more difficult by an era of social distancing and ‘stay-at-home’ orders,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “That’s why I fought for provisions in the CARES Act that would give VA more flexibility in caring for homeless veterans and ensure that shelters have the resources to operate during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. VA did the right thing by implementing these measures that will provide supportive services to this at-risk population.”

Ranking Member Tester fought to include key provisions and funds in the CARES Act to enable VA to provide additional support for vulnerable veterans—including programs to assist homeless veterans or those at-risk of becoming homeless, as well as within State Veterans Homes and community living centers. He called on VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to implement these authorities quickly and efficiently, to provide much needed relief to veterans and their families.

VA announced funding for three critical programs to assist veterans without safe and stable housing during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program - $202 million to provide emergency housing and homelessness prevention assistance to very low-income veteran families to mitigate the expected wave of evictions and potential homelessness that will result from extensive unemployment.
  • Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program - $88 million to allow VA to waive per diem limits during the crisis and help GPD grantees to provide all needed emergency housing and supportive services, including emergency placement for veterans who need to be isolated for their safety or the safety of others.
  • Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program - $10 million to provide emergency shelter and supportive services during the crisis, including placement in hotel rooms for veterans needing emergency shelter or isolation to avoid spreading the virus. Housing will be paired with care, treatment and rehabilitative services.