Just four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Housing Secretary Ben Carson held a press conference at a Washington, D.C. homeless shelter in which they announced a new commitment to ending homelessness among the nation’s veterans, Trump’s VA slashed funding for a key program that helps provide housing to homeless veterans, according to Politico.
The VA announced that it was ending a special $460 million program that has been credited with dramatically reducing homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans.
Shulkin reportedly said the funds would now go to local VA hospitals for use as they see fit, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.
Advocates for veterans, state officials and HUD officials, which co-sponsors the program, attacked the VA’s decision, according to five people who were on the call.
“I don’t understand why you are pulling the rug out,” Elisha Harig-Blaine, a National League of Cities housing official who was on the call, said in an interview afterward. “You’re putting at risk the lives of men and women who’ve served this country.”
“The VA is taking its foot off the pedal,” said Leon Winston, an executive at Swords to Plowshares.
The Hill notes:
The program provides housing vouchers to veterans via the Department of Housing and Urban Development while the VA continues helping veterans find more permanent housing.
More than half of the veterans housed via the program have problems like chronic illness or substance abuse, according to Politico.
Shulkin issued a statement to Politico Wednesday saying he would get input from local VA leaders “on how best to target our funding to the geographical areas that need it the most.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who serves on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told Politico that the decision was a “new low” for President Trump’s administration that was “especially callous and perplexing” in view of the latest data on homelessness.