VA Programs: Housing

Poverty and affordable housing are among the biggest and most widespread risk factors for homelessness. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the shortage of available and affordable rental homes in the United States has reached 7.3 million. In Florida, data shows that there are only 23 available and affordable rental homes for every 100 low income renter households. 

This can spell trouble for veterans, particularly those who are unemployed due to a service-related disability or mental health condition, or those who are having trouble transitioning back to civilian life and finding a job. Fortunately, the VA offers veteran housing assistance programs to help qualifying veterans build, keep, or improve their homes, as well as rental assistance designed to offer help for homeless veterans

What Services Are Available?

Different types of assistance are available depending on your needs and situation. 

  • The VA home loan program helps veterans, current service members, and their surviving family members obtain loans for the purpose of buying, building, improving, or refinancing a home. Veteran home loans often come with lower down payments or better terms than loans from other entities. 

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program offers rental assistance in the form of housing vouchers, case management, and supportive services to homeless veterans. Available services might include helping families find and maintain permanent housing, mental health and/or substance use counseling, and other forms of support. 

Who Is Eligible for Help?

To be eligible for veteran housing assistance, individuals must meet the following requirements:

  • For a VA direct or VA-backed veterans home loan program, you’re eligible if you didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge and you meet the minimum service requirements. 
    • For service members, that’s at least 90 continuous days of active-duty service. 
    • For veterans, your service requirements will depend on when you served.
    • Note that even if they are deemed eligible based on the above requirements, participants in this program will still need to be approved based on their credit and income.  
  • For the HUD-VASH Program, participants must be homeless veterans and family members who have been referred to participating public housing authorities (PHAs) by partnering VA medical centers or community-based outpatient clinics. 
    • Participants are screened by the PHAs based on their income eligibility, citizenship, and whether they are subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state sex offender registration program. 

Getting Started 

If you think you might be eligible for veteran housing assistance, here are the first steps you’ll need to take:

  • To get a VA home loan, participants must first get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) that ascertains you meet the requirements. You can request a COE online, through your lender, or by mail. 
  • If you are a veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and are looking for support through the HUD-VASH program, get in touch with your local VA medical center or contact the National Homeless Veteran Call Center (877-424-3838). 

National Veterans Homeless Support seeks to eliminate homelessness among veterans in Central Florida and nationwide. NVHS takes a proactive, intervention-based approach to homelessness by meeting homeless veterans where they are and helping them from there. Through programs like Search and Rescue Outreach, NVHS helps homeless veterans get the supplies they need to survive, connects them with support and resources, and helps them transition off the streets and into temporary or permanent housing. If you’re able, consider supporting our mission by donating or signing on as a volunteer.