Home > GAO-12-182 > Recommendations

Homeless Women Veterans:
Actions Needed to Ensure Safe and Appropriate Housing

GAO-12-182, Published: Dec 23, 2011. Publicly Released: Jan 23, 2012.

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Recommendation: In order to help achieve the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, the Secretaries of VA and HUD should collaborate to ensure appropriate data are collected on homeless women veterans, including those with children and those with disabilities, and use these data to strategically plan for services.
  2. Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs
  3. Status: Closed - Implemented
  4. Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Veterans Health Agency has included requests for information about gender specific needs and information for homeless programs in the 2011 Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups for Veterans (CHALENG) survey. The survey was revised in June 2012 to include gender specific information. VA has taken other various efforts to gather information on homeless female Veterans and their needs. VA reports that it has been working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) over the past two years to jointly collect data for HUD's reporting efforts to Congress. Collectively, VA, HUD, and the Department of Defense (DoD) and community agencies are assessing data from the Homeless Management Information System and Post Deployment Health Assessment to develop a more comprehensive definition for the prevalence and the unique needs of homeless female veterans who may not currently access VA services.

  1. Recommendation: In order to ensure homeless women veterans have an appropriate place to stay while they await placement in GPD or HUD-VASH housing, the Secretary of VA should ensure implementation of VA's referral policies.
  2. Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs
  3. Status: Closed - Implemented
  4. Comments: VA revised and published its Grant and Per Diem Handbook in July 2013 to include a new section providing guidance on the referral process, including an emphasis on ensuring interim placement arrangements when there is a delay in placement at Grant and Per Diem programs. VA also developed curricula and provided training for staff working with homeless women veterans, including referral guidance, in March 2012 and August 2013.

  1. Recommendation: In order to help achieve the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, the Secretaries of VA and HUD should collaborate to ensure appropriate data are collected on homeless women veterans, including those with children and those with disabilities, and use these data to strategically plan for services.
  2. Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development
  3. Status: Closed - Implemented
  4. Comments: HUD and VA have continued their collaboration in the area of data collection and reporting. In 2013, HUD in consultation with VA, added gender to the required data collection for the veterans subpopulation in the point-in-time count. In 2014 demographics across all populations were expanded to include gender, and in 2015 HUD began including veterans experiencing chronic homelessness as a required data element in the point-in-time count. Since 2012, HUD and VA have also issued joint guidance on data collection for veterans serving organizations.

  1. Recommendation: To better serve the needs of homeless women veterans with children, the Secretary of VA should examine ways to improve transitional housing services for homeless women veterans with children.
  2. Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs
  3. Status: Closed - Implemented
  4. Comments: In 2013, VA provided technical assistance on a bill that would permit grantees receiving funds under the Grant and Per Diem Program to use part of the funds for the care of a dependent of a homeless veteran (S. 287). VA has also continued to seek ways to engage homeless veterans with dependent children through awarding grants for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, which provides grants to community organizations to provide rapid re-housing and prevention services to veterans and their families that are homeless or at-risk for homelessness. VA has expanded funding for this program and published a Notice of Funding Availability for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in FY 2014 for up to $600 million.

  1. Recommendation: To ensure that women veterans are safely housed, the Secretary of VA should determine what gender-specific safety and security standards are needed for GPD programs, especially for those serving both women and men.
  2. Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs
  3. Status: Closed - Implemented
  4. Comments: VA revised and published its Grant and Per Diem Handbook in July 2013, which included a new section on services for women. An enhanced inspection checklist was also developed to provide greater clarity for VA inspection teams and community providers. The Grant and Per Diem program has also changed its future application process such that new applicants must include information about the gender of the proposed homeless populations the applicant intends to serve. The instructions and questions needed for the narrative would be included in the Notice of Funding Availability.