There is an epidemic of homelessness in our community. This crisis is having a terrible impact on our region and combatting it is critical to addressing inequities in our society. Earlier this month, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine proclaimed a state of emergency to address homelessness.  Any solution to the increasing plight of the homeless in our community must include a focus on the veterans who have risked their lives to protect our freedoms and keep us safe.

“We have made strides toward ending veterans’ homelessness in Seattle, reducing veterans without permanent housing by two-thirds, but we have more work to do,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Even one veteran sleeping on our streets is too many. These additional federal supports are welcome aid to those in need.”

“I was extremely pleased to see that VASH has awarded project-based vouchers for our veterans community to ensure that they have access to housing,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Veterans and their families face a unique set of challenges and Congress must do everything possible to ensure that the men and women who serve our country receive the care and assistance that they earned.”

In King County, these 11 vouchers will be used at the Multi-Service Center (MSC) Veterans Housing Project in Federal Way. MSC broke ground on the project in June 2015 and the building will be ready for occupancy by mid-summer 2016. Vital services will be offered onsite and occupants will receive an array of services linked to the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Amenities at the Veterans Housing Project will include on-site parking, an exercise room, community rooms, computer labs, and security.

“These vouchers provide important additional support for our efforts to end homelessness among our veterans in Washington State,” said Stephen Norman, Executive Director of King County Housing Authority. “We very much appreciate Congressman Smith’s unwavering commitment to truly bringing our troops home.”

The award from the HUD – VASH will enable the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to subsidize an additional 10 studio apartments in the Lake City area as housing for homeless veterans in the. Homeless veterans in urgent need of housing will be identified in partnership with the Veterans Administration for placement in one of the 10 designated VASH project-based voucher apartments at the 75-unit McDermott Place complex, where they will pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent and utilities.

In addition to housing, veterans will work with a Sound Mental Health case manager to receive coordinated mental health care and other support services, so they receive the treatment and skills they need for successful independent living. Those veterans who are able to work will also have access to economic self-sufficiency training.

“This HUD – VASH award means that we can get 10 additional homeless men or women who have served our country off the streets of Seattle and into a home that is safe and warm,” said Andrew J. Lofton, Executive Director at the Seattle Housing Authority. “At McDermott Place they will receive respect and will be part of a caring community that offers a unique model of coordinated services to support them on a path to stability.”

Congressman Smith recognizes that it is essential that we tackle the growing problem of housing insecurity and homelessness in our region. Housing and community development are key to citizens' quality of life and Congressman Smith supports empowerment zones and other incentive-based programs to encourage investment and development in communities in need.

Congressman Smith applauds Senator Patty Murray’s Homeless Veterans Services Protection Act, federal legislation that would ensure access to critical services for homeless former service members. Many who have served in combat zones are impacted by post-traumatic stress – sometimes leading to them being discharged from the military without receiving the critical mental health and rehabilitative care that they so badly need. This bill would prevent the enactment of a Veterans Administration policy that could block homeless veterans on the street from accessing critical resources.  Senator Murray’s legislation would also set VA policy that allows essential outreach programs to help the men and women who have sacrificed for our nation. Congress must continue to develop policies that reduce homelessness and create a better future for our veterans and for all Americans.