VA offers a wide array of special programs and initiatives specifically designed to help homeless veterans live as self-sufficiently and independently as possible. In fact,VA is the only Federal agency that provides substantial hands-on assistance directly to homeless persons. Although limited to veterans and their dependents, VA's major homeless-specific programs constitute the largest integrated network of homeless treatment and assistance services in the country.
VA's specialized homeless veterans treatment programs have grown and developed since they were first authorized in 1987. The programs strive to offer a continuum of services that include:
- aggressive outreach to those veterans living on streets and in shelters who otherwise would not seek assistance;
- clinical assessment and referral to needed medical treatment for physical and psychiatric disorders, including substance abuse;
- long-term sheltered transitional assistance, case management, and rehabilitation;
- employment assistance and linkage with available income supports; and
- supported permanent housing.