The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made some changes to help more veterans get off the streets and into housing.
The 2022 Point in Time (PIT) Count recorded the lowest number of unsheltered veterans in Bexar County and San Antonio since 2016.
Haven For Hope Veterans Coordinator John Votts attributes that to the VA expanding eligibility for supportive housing vouchers. The HUD-VA Supportive Housing program now allows veterans with an “Other Than Honorable” discharge to receiving housing benefits.
“That’s because the VA is aware that this is a national problem just across every state,” Votts said.
Tory Reis is an Army veteran who once lived on the streets and now stays at Haven for Hope’s dorms.
He understands why veterans are hesitant to ask for help.
“Unfortunately, because veterans are prideful -- more prideful than the average person,” Reis said.
Reis said Haven for Hope helped him file a disability claim with the VA, allowing him to have a steady income, but not enough to afford a place to stay.
His experience aligns with PIT data because he is sheltered, but struggles to find long-term housing.
The PIT Count reports chronic homelessness among veterans increased by 77% from 2020.
Vott said it’s because federal housing aid has expired.
“We’ve lessened the amount of places where people could actually seek immediate shelter that, you know, was accessible during COVID,” Votts said.
The PIT Count report states long-term housing solutions and affordable housing availability is needed.
For now, Reis said veterans should take the first step and ask for help.
“Once they see that there is hope. They also have to be encouraged to continue following up on that and they’re very good about that here,” Reis said.