Low-income Tri-City veterans will be getting help paying the rent, thanks to new federal funding announced Monday.
The state will receive funding for 240 housing vouchers, totaling more than $1.5 million, with 12 of the vouchers going to the Walla Walla Housing Authority for use in the Tri-Cities.
Linda Wondra, spokeswoman for the Walla Walla Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said the vouchers totaling $49,687 will be in addition to the vouchers 96 veterans already receive in the Tri-Cities.
“This is a great thing for us to be able to assist our veterans,” she said.
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The funding comes as the VA is planning to add a third housing case manager to its Richland clinic.
“They help them to not only get an apartment, but also maintain an apartment when they are there,” said Ron Opsal, the VA’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans Social Services coordinator.
The VA plans to advertise the position in the coming weeks, Opsal said.
The vouchers will give each veteran $345 a month toward housing, officials said.
“It’s quite a savings when you consider that rent is about $550,” Wondra said.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray helped restart the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program in 2008, she said in a statement. The program is now helping with the problems veterans face, but the work is not over.
“Each one of these vouchers represents a step toward finding a permanent home for a veteran who served our country, but is struggling to find stable housing,” Murray said in a statement. “We owe it to our veterans to support them and make sure they have the resources they need to find high quality health care, a stable job, and a stable home.”
The program has helped veteran homelessness in the United States drop by 33 percent since 2010, the statement said.
The Walla Walla VA also manages about 100 housing vouchers in the Walla Walla area, along with those in Benton and Franklin counties, Wondra said.
The Walla Walla VA’s service area got a larger piece of the pie this time than it did in the most recent announcement of veteran housing vouchers in October 2014. A four-county area got 10 of 335 vouchers in Washington announced at that time.
Just over half the vouchers announced Monday — 124 — will go to veterans in Seattle and King County.