U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, wants to know why thousands of housing vouchers for homeless veterans were not used last year. The congressman sent a letter to two federal agencies Thursday demanding answers.
Testimony during a congressional hearing this month revealed that up to 14,000 housing vouchers went unused in 2019. That’s with an estimated 37,000 homeless veterans across the country.
“It is completely unacceptable that our federal government is failing to make housing benefits available to our nation’s homeless veterans," Buchanan said in a letter. “I am calling on HUD and the VA to immediately rectify this problem and make sure veterans get the benefits they rightfully deserve.”
Buchanan said the housing vouchers are sometimes referred to as “golden tickets” because they provide temporary shelter, reliable rent payments, and other critical support services.
He said these revelations show the pattern of a broken system.
In 2018, the VA spent less than 1% of $6.2 million in funds made available by Congress for a suicide prevention program.
Christina Mandreucci, with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, said in an email Thursday, “VA’s goal is to issue the majority of these unused vouchers by the end of this fiscal year, but the biggest impediment to that remains an inadequate supply of affordable housing and perpetual increases in rental costs – issues that require the close attention of local leaders and are outside of VA’s control.”