Since 1994, Veteran Affairs has been offering the Grant and Per Diem Program, also known as GPD, which allocates funds to supportive services for community-based traditional housing. GPD is the largest transitional housing program the VA supports. This program provides funding for the expansion or staffing costs of housing solutions, both short-term and long-term, for veterans through partnerships the VA forms with local housing institutions.
For instance, the VA could fund a particular housing agency if they meet certain criteria, such as providing a majority of their assistance exclusively to veterans. The main drive of this program is to ensure that veteran housing is maintained and available for those who need it when the time comes.
As its name gives away, the fund is broken down into two distinct components—grants and per diem. Grants are funds aimed at structural upkeep and even acquisition for expansion. These funds could provide up to 65-percent of the costs for improving or expanding services areas like vocational improvement, crisis intervention, and case management. One feature these housing services must meet is that they provide supportive housing up to 24-months for veterans.
Per Diem funds are to subsidize the operational costs a housing service bares. These costs can include salaries. According to the VA’s website, the maximum amount that is payable per-veteran housed is $45.79 under the Per Diem section. It should also be noted that a veteran may be expected to pay rent, so long as the expense does not exceed 30-percent of the veteran’s monthly income. Typically, recipients of the Grants are given priority to the Per Diem funds, but housing programs can apply only to the funds without receiving a Grant.
However, GPD is undergoing some changes to the structure of its overall goal with a new emphasis on short-term stays that generates permanent housing opportunities for veterans. With these changes, all grantee recipients must reapply to meet the new guidelines of the programs. One big change to GPD is switching to the Bridge Housing model, which means the transitional housing is to be used as a short-term stay while the veteran permanent housing is still being arranged. Bridge Housing is provided up to 90 days and the Individual Service Plan’s focus is on permanent housing.
Housing organizations planning on applying for GPD in the coming years need to keep in mind that the VA strongly encourages that they convert to the Bridge Housing model. The VA states on their website that up to 50-percent of the beds must be allocated directly to the Bridge Housing model. These changes are operating under the belief that they will make for lower barriers to entry, as well as, reducing the lengths of stays for the veterans. With lower barriers, the hope is to be able to provide benefits for more veterans across the country.
When looking at the big picture, ending homelessness is only a piece of the puzzle to improve veterans’ lives. The ultimate goal the VA is pursuing is to create a sustainable future for life after service for every veteran. The revamped GPD program has been fashioned in a way to help achieve this goal through the partnerships the VA creates with the local community. With goals set for securing a household and improving a veteran’s skillset, the VA hopes to eradicate homelessness and inspire hope in those that they serve.
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