Trump administration backtracks on cuts to program helping homeless veterans after outrage

  • Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said last week that the VA would end one of its two veterans’ homeless programs.
  • The money would go to local VA hospitals that would decide how to spend it.
  • Shulkin announced Thursday that the department would not cut the program.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced Thursday that the department would not cut a program helping homeless veterans, that it previously had said it would end.

“There will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless program,” Shulkin said in a news release on Wednesday, just hours after Politico published a report on the homeless program ending.

Shulkin has recently cited the successes and commitment the Trump administration has to homeless veterans.

The program in question gave housing vouchers to homeless veterans, who would then use them to get temporary housing through the Department of Housing and Urban Development while the VA tried to find more permanent places for them to stay. The $460 million program has had huge success in finding homeless veterans places to stay.

According to Politico, Shulkin had told advocates in a December 1st phone call that the VA would end one of its two veterans’ homeless programs, and funnel the money to local VA hospitals that would decide how to spend it.

The announcement was met with immediate and intense criticism from lawmakers, activists, and advocates for veterans.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington called the move a “new low” for the Trump administration.

Elisha Harig-Blaine, a housing official from the National League of Cities, told Politico, “I don’t understand why you are pulling the rug out.”

“You’re putting at risk the lives of men and women who’ve served this country,” he said.

Data from HUD’s annual survey released on Wednesday showed a 1.5% increase in veteran homelessness over 2016. This is the first rise since 2010, and is mostly due to veterans having trouble finding housing in Los Angeles, where property values have shot up in recent years.