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Program vouchers to aid So. Md.’s homeless veterans

Nearly one-third of the homeless veterans in Southern Maryland will have the chance to get assistance with affordable housing after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued 21 housing vouchers for use in the region.

Valued at $198,000, the vouchers will provide financial housing assistance for 21 veterans. During the most recent point-in-time survey conducted in the region in January, there were 68 homeless veterans counted throughout Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, said Kristen Olivio, chair of the Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s homelessness prevention board and coordinator of homeless programs for the Calvert County Health Department.

The Calvert County Housing Authority was chosen as the administrator of the vouchers, but they will be shared throughout the three counties, said Wayne Boyle, executive director of the Calvert County Housing Authority.

It was a challenge to receive the Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program vouchers because there was no veteran center in the Southern Maryland region, Boyle said. Now there is a center in Charlotte Hall, which provides an avenue for those in a VA program to be connected with valuable support and services, including HUD-VASH vouchers.

With a HUD-VASH voucher, veterans will pay 30 percent of their monthly income toward their housing costs, and the voucher will pay for anything required over that 30 percent amount, Boyle said.

But the funding for the vouchers won’t be available until Congress passes its fiscal 2015 budget, he said.

“I’m pleased that the 21 HUD-VASH vouchers awarded today to the Calvert County Housing Authority will provide nearly $200,000 to help combat homelessness among veterans throughout Southern Maryland’s tri-county area,” said U.S. Rep Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) in a press release. “These vouchers will help us get homeless veterans and their families off the streets and into affordable housing.”

Statewide, $491,367 will be granted for HUD-VASH vouchers. The Hagerstown Housing Authority will receive $219,521, the Calvert County Housing Authority will receive $198,901 and the Baltimore County Housing Authority will receive $72,945, according to a press release.

“I believe our support for our military in the field must be matched by support for our veterans at home,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which funds HUD, and member of the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus and the Senate Military Family Caucus, said in a press release. “Promises made to veterans must be promises kept. These funds in the federal checkbook will help our vets find homes. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to our men and women in uniform. These grants will show that gratitude not just with words, but with deeds.”

Calvert Housing Authority chosen as administrator