David Shulkin urges emergency aid for VA private health care soon

Remigio Civitarese
Декабря 8, 2017

The Department of Veterans Affairs appears to be backtracking on its divisive plan to reallocate almost a half-billion dollars from a successful program to reduce homelessness among former military personnel, bowing to pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups who criticized the effort as cruel and counterproductive.

This is a program, the Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH), that according to news reports, that "has helped cut the number of veteran homeless, serving 138,000 vets since 2010".

Shulkin's staff told homeless veterans advocates about the decision in a December 1 phone call.

"There will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless program". VA hospitals won't help find veterans homes like the initial program can - "that's the outrage", Harig-Blaine said.

In 2016, HUD data showed that there were nearly 40,000 homeless veterans living in the US. And since 2009, veteran homelessness has been down by about 45 percent, progress that many have attributed to President Barack Obama's pledge to boost funding targeting the problem. On Dec. 6, HUD disclosed that the rate of veteran homelessness increased by two percent in 2016, marking the first uptick in almost a decade.

The about-face, announced in a statement Wednesday night from VA Secretary David Shulkin, followed a Washington Post inquiry into the Trump administration's effort to divert the funding - totaling $460 million - instead to local VA hospitals for discretionary use. "These programs are now managed at VA central office in Washington, D.C., and this move gives control and management of resources to local VA facilities".

"I don't understand why you are pulling the rug out", National League of Cities housing official Elisha Harig-Blaine, who was on the call, told Politico. "You're putting at risk the lives of men and women who've served this country".

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