SANTA MARIA - The Veterans Administration "VASH" voucher program provides qualified homeless veterans as much as a 70% subsidy on rent.
"A HUD (Federal Housing and Urban Development) VASH voucher is great, it basically works the same as a Section 8 voucher", says homeless veteran advocate and Good Samaritan, Inc. Director Sylvia Barnard, "the veteran himself only pays 30 percent of his income on rent and the rest comes from the Veterans Administration."
The VASH voucher program is administered in Santa Barbara County by the County Housing Authority which simply cannot meet the demand.
"I think there are a lot of veterans out there who could benefit because there are too many veterans on the list and not enough vouchers to go around", Barnard says.
VA screening for qualification in the VASH voucher program includes all veterans must be clean and sober and must be reliable tenants.
"You have to be able to make sure you're not partying, you're staying clean and sober", Barnard says, "and that you're able to pay your rent and be a good neighbor, be a good tenant."
The other key qualification is vets must not be living in a shelter or enrolled in other related programs.
Sometimes a vet on the waiting list can live on the streets for more than a year before getting a voucher.
"The irony is you may be homeless living in an emergency shelter but you technically don't qualify unless you are sleeping on the streets", Barnard says.
With the freezing of the "Section 8" federal housing assistance program due to the ongoing "sequestration" in Washington D.C., applications for VASH vouchers are rising every month.
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