A VA program called “Housing First” seeks to bring an end to homelessness among veterans by providing them with the thing they need most: a place to live. Though this may seem like an intuitive solution, for many years the pervasive approach to handling homelessness among veterans focused on drug treatment and mental health counseling. Subsidized housing was positioned as a reward for positive gains in treatment. “Housing First,” by contrast, begins by helping veterans find a place to live. The program also covers security deposits and initial rent payments. Once veterans are settled into their homes, “Housing First” offers additional support services, like independent living skills, mental health counseling, and addiction treatment. The program caters to men and women alike, but it has had a marked impact on female veterans. A Sacramento chapter, for example, has helped 178 female veterans — and their children, if they have any — settle into homes. Ninety percent of those women were still residing in their houses a year later.
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