Senate and Assembly Hold Joint Hearing on Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program
January 8, 2016
The Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program (VHHP) was the subject of an oversight hearing on Tuesday, January 5. The Senate Veterans Committee met jointly with the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee to discuss this relatively new program and to hear about lessons learned from the first round of funding awards and where the program is headed in the future.
Members heard from three state agencies instrumental in implementing the program: California Department of Veterans Affairs, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, and California Housing Finance Agency. State officials provided a presentation on the problem of veterans experiencing homelessness and some of the features of those with military experience that make veterans a unique population to serve. In 2013, AB 639 (Perez) was signed into law and in June 2014 Proposition 41 (both AB 639 and Proposition 41 were supported by CSAC) was passed by the voters, authorizing $600 million in bonding dollars to fund affordable housing for low-income and homeless veterans. This funding created the Veterans’ Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program (VHHP) (see the HCD and Cal Vet websites about this program for more information). There are also considerable efforts related to homeless veterans at the federal level.
The first round of VHHP funding awards went out in summer 2015. The state agencies reported positive outcomes with some lessons to be learned from this initial experience. For example, feedback was received on the application process and scoring system, and adjustments were made to the classification of case management costs. Round two of funding is currently underway, with final awards for this funding round to be made in spring 2016.
State officials discussed other related programs and collaborative efforts, as well as some initial findings. Some geographical areas are more challenging to serve, like rural communities, and some populations present unique challenges, like veterans with military sexual trauma. Officials also noted that the existing legislation provides broad authority and no legislative changes are needed at this time. The program is on track to meet its goals.
Additional testimony was heard after the state officials completed their presentation. Testifiers included representatives from several organizations that had applied for or received funding from the VHHP program. Feedback was generally really positive, though some suggested improvements were noted.