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Homeless veterans eligible for federal housing vouchers still not using them

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – Tens of thousands of veterans across the country are living on the streets even though they are eligible for federal housing vouchers.

“I operate under the premise that not one veteran should go without housing. We do have good people at the VA working hard on this,” Representative Mike Levin, D-California, said.

Congressman Mike Levin says while the offices of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development are making progress on the problem, the VA is more than 650 caseworkers short of the staff needed to connect eligible vets to housing.

“There are still people who are slipping through the cracks. In San Diego, 31 percent of the HUD VASH Vouchers are going unutilized,” Levin said.

Plus as the cost of housing in states like California continues to rise, and the number of affordable housing units hasn’t increased fast enough.

Many homeless veterans who do get federal vouchers can’t cover their rent.

“We are making really good progress,” Hunter Kurtz, a Housing and Urban Development official said.

Hunter Kurtz, a HUD official, says the VA and HUD have worked together since 2010 to reduce the number of homeless vets by 50-percent.

He says both agencies working to overcome obstacles but says the model is working.

“I don’t think it’s that we’re facing new challenges. I just think we’re trying to find ways to continue to make the program work better,” Kurtz said.

Levin says he’s working on a legislative solution and believes solving the housing crisis for veterans is something both parties support.

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