Boulder County: Housing hope for homeless vets
First-ever investment will also bring VA case management to Boulder County
Boulder County, Colo. – As a result of an interagency collaboration, Boulder County will receive $229,620 to help house homeless veterans. The grant, announced earlier this week, will come to the county in the form of 25 vouchers known as VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) awards.
The federal departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) are working together for the first time to simultaneously meet the immediate need for housing and the ongoing need for human services for chronically homeless veterans and their families. While this collaboration has been underway since 2009, this is the first time Boulder County has received the federal grant focused specifically on housing homeless veterans.
Boulder County’s Department of Housing and Human Services (HHS) will administer the program. HHS Housing Division Director Willa Williford noted that the VASH vouchers come at a crucial time. “Boulder County has the second largest homeless population in the Denver metro area,” Williford said. “In the past five years, we’ve seen homelessness in Boulder County nearly double; the most recent count was almost 1,800 individuals. Many people are surprised to learn that 10 percent of Boulder County’s homeless are veterans, so while these vouchers just scratch the surface, they’re a welcome acknowledgement of the depth of need in our community.”
The Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services, in collaboration with Boulder Housing Partners and the Longmont Housing Authority, are working with the VA on a timeline for implementation of the vouchers and specifics around how the program will work. The VA also plans to place a case worker in Boulder County, and for veterans this will help ease the stress of needing to travel to Denver for services.
The VASH vouchers awarded to Boulder County are largely the result of advocacy at the federal level by Boulder Housing Partners. The grant is also due in part to strong support from Sen. Mark Udall and Reps. Jared Polis and Cory Gardner.
The Boulder County Commissioners have also been supportive of the effort. “This grant will help some of our veterans find a safe and affordable place to live,” Commissioner Deb Gardner said. “Creating that stability for people is a critical piece of the county’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness and we’re thankful for the collaboration that brought this program together. We look forward to working with all willing partners as we work to reduce and end homelessness.”