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Housing for Homeless Veterans through VA's Enhanced-Use Lease Program

GAO-17-101, December 21, 2016

Approximately 39,000 U.S. veterans were homeless as of January 2016 due to factors such as mental health issues, substance abuse, and chronic illness. To house homeless veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has used its enhanced-use leasing (EUL) program to turn underutilized and vacant buildings into affordable supportive housing.

Through this program, the VA has offered 2,391 housing units at 35 active EULs to veterans and their families as of September 2016. This housing comes with crucial supportive services, including access to medical care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, assistance with transportation, and access to services on VA's medical campuses.

The first figure is an interactive map of each state's population of homeless veterans; the second figure is an interactive map of the EULs, including location (current and future locations), year leased, status, name of the organization holding the lease, type of housing, and number of housing units.

The Population of Homeless Veterans in the United States, by State

Source: GAO analysis of Department of Housing and Urban Development 2016 data. | GAO-17-101

Note: Excludes Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' 70 Enhanced-Use Leases, as of September 2016

 EUL projects that have stalled or stopped due to problems.  VA has a signed long-term lease with a developer, and the developer is building or restoring buildings in accordance with the terms of the EUL.  An EUL with a signed lease that has been cancelled or terminated in accordance with the terms of the lease.  VA's initial due diligence to determine if the conditions of a property are appropriate for an EUL.  VA is completing environmental and historic studies for the proposed EUL, and the developer is seeking funding and completing engineering and designs.  An active EUL has a signed long-term lease and is in operation.

Source: GAO analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs' 2016 data. | GAO-17-101

Notes: Permanent supportive housing refers to long-term housing with supportive services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including those with disabilities. Transitional housing refers to time-limited housing that aims to facilitate the movement of homeless individuals and families to permanent housing within a reasonable amount of time (usually 24 months). Senior housing is permanent housing for seniors age 62 and over. Assisted living is housing with services for the frail elderly and people with disabilities who can live independently but need assistance with daily living activities. Memory care provides specialized long-term care services in a secured environment for individuals with dementia. BURR refers to the VA's Building Utilization Review and Repurposing initiative, launched in 2009, which included a 2-year strategic study to identify unutilized and underutilized VA properties that could be developed as housing for homeless or at-risk veterans and their families. Legacy refers to EUL projects that VA completed prior to the BURR initiative.

For more information, read our report, GAO-17-101.