The state of Virginia created VHSP in an effort to reduce the number of homeless individuals in the state. The Department of Social Services in each county, or DSS, plays a leading role in administering it. There is assistance for everything from paying security or utility deposits to water bills, rent, temporary housing, and more.
There are three main goals of VHSP. Each has to do with batting homelessness and a county by county approach is taken. This ensures that all of the cash grants paid out are kept local, where they can be most effectively used. The three primary objectives are as follows.
One is to stop homelessness from occurring in the first place. This is especially important for veterans, single moms or dads, the disabled, immigrants, or senior citizens as these groups are very vulnerable. The resources offered for this component are as follows.
Grants for rent or paying utilities (including fuel or water bills) are only for people who have not received a disconnection or eviction notice in the last 24 months. This criteria is used to ensure that the Virginia VHSP housing program does not keep assisting the same residents month in and out. As the funds are for emergencies only, and not to help low income families that do not take the opportunity to help themselves.
In addition, the applicants total household income from all sources needs to be no more than 80% of the area median income. This helps give a scale across the state that accounts for the cost of living and salaries. As the median income in Fairfax County is greater then in some of the rural parts of the state, or the Richmond area. This allows more opportunity to qualify for VHSP as it more accurately considers the cost of monthly rents in some of the more expensive marketplaces. For additional housing assistance, locate agencies that may offer financial help for rent.
When financial help is given, it will only last for a couple months. However the client has the right to request an extension. They will need to re-apply and show what they have done to help their situation. When approved, additional VHSP grants may yet provided for up to 12 months in total time. But this is done in increments.
Secondly, VHSP will reduce the timeframe of which someone is living in a shelter or motel. That means if a resident of Virginia was forced to leave their home or apartment, then the Department of Social Services (using VHSP funding) will help the client find a new place to live. A major part of this will be using government money to pay for security deposits as well as relocation expenses.
Security deposit and other rehousing assistance is provided one time only to reduce the total time of being homeless. When a tenant applies for help from this program, they need to show that the accommodations are affordable and within their budget. They need to show their total household income and expenses, and how they plan on affording the rent along with their other bills in the future. Only when this has been done, and approved by a VHSP supported agency, will money be allocated.
Lastly, VHSP will also provide ongoing support to keep the family housed. This is a focus of not only the Department of Social Services, but also of the many other agencies that are part of the program. As an example, the Salvation Army as well as local United Way offices help facilitate case management. Catholic Charities will tend to focus on immigrants as well as refugees in Virginia. They also address employment and other needs.
The assistance is available for a diverse group of Virginia residents. The teams that are involved in the VHSP housing program are multilingual, and can provide information to English, Spanish, Hindu, and Mandarin speakers among others. They also provide in-home visitations to senior citizens or the disabled to help them apply for a grant if they are considered to be homebound. All offices are wheelchair accessible too. For more information on VHSP in Virginia, dial (800) 552-3431 for referrals. Or inquire at a local Social Service office for a list of all government benefits available.
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