[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 90 (Friday, May 9, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 26669-26678]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-10251]


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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

38 CFR Part 62

RIN 2900-AO50


Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposes to amend its 
regulations concerning the Supportive Services for Veteran Families 
Program (SSVF). The proposed changes would clarify, consistent with 
existing regulations, that grantees must focus on providing permanent 
housing to eligible veteran families who, without SSVF assistance, 
would likely become homeless. The proposed clarifications are intended 
to emphasize the intended goals of SSVF. The proposed rule would expand 
grantees' authority to provide certain services to all very low-income 
veteran families, and specifically to those veteran families with 
significantly lower economic resources, which we would identify as 
extremely low-income veteran families. The purpose of this expanded 
authority is to address identified needs based on the administration of 
SSVF since its inception, and to provide greater incentive to grantees 
to assist these particularly vulnerable veteran families. Finally, the 
proposed rule would clarify that certain services are not permissible 
uses of SSVF funds.

DATES: Comments must be received by VA on or before June 23, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted through http://www.Regulations.gov; by mail or hand delivery to the Director, 
Regulation Policy and Management (02REG), Department of Veterans 
Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by 
fax to (202) 273-9026. Comments should indicate that they are submitted 
in response to ``RIN 2900-AO50--Supportive Services for Veteran 
Families Program.'' Copies of comments received will be available for 
public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, 
Room 1068, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 461-4902 for an 
appointment. (This is not a toll-free number.) In addition, during the 
comment period, comments may be viewed online at www.Regulations.gov 
through the Federal Docket Management Systems (FDMS).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Kuhn, National Center for 
Homelessness Among Veterans, Supportive Services for Veteran Families 
Program Office, 4100 Chester Avenue, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 
(877) 737-0111. (This is a toll-free number.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On November 10, 2010, VA published a final 
rule promulgating 38 CFR part 62, regulations implementing 38 U.S.C. 
2044 by establishing an SSVF Program. 75 FR 68979. Through this 
program, VA has offered grants to eligible entities, identified in the 
regulations, that provide supportive services to very low-income 
veterans and families who are at risk for becoming homeless or who, in 
some cases, have recently become homeless. The program has been a 
tremendous success, providing services to over 62,000 participants in 
fiscal year (FY) 2013 (the program was projected to serve 42,000 for 
the entire fiscal year). To date, over 80 percent of those discharged 
from SSVF have been placed in or saved their permanent housing.
    In order to ensure its continued success and to address minor 
issues that have arisen through the course of the administration of 
SSVF, we are proposing to revise the regulations. In particular, these 
revisions would establish a class of very low-income veteran families 
who are most in need (identified in this proposed rule as

[[Page 26670]]

``extremely low-income veteran families''), and make other necessary 
refinements to the regulations. Additional clarifications are included 
with respect to the categories and classification of participants. 
These changes should ensure that those most in need receive supportive 
services under SSVF, and that VA aligns its terminology with that used 
by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for 
similar programs. VA has expressed the priority to serve those most in 
need in its annual Notice of Funding Availability, and the proposed 
clarifying language will identify those priorities in the regulations.
    A discussion of the proposed revisions to part 62 follows.

62.2: ``Homeless'' Definition

    VA proposes to amend the definition of ``homeless'' to adopt HUD's 
definition in 24 CFR 576.2. Currently, VA uses the statutory definition 
of ``homeless'' that is applicable to similar programs administered by 
HUD, but without the benefit of HUD's interpretation of this term. The 
authorizing statute for SSVF specifically requires VA to use the 
definition set forth in 42 U.S.C. 11302. 38 U.S.C. 2044(f)(3). HUD, not 
VA, is the primary government agency charged with interpreting and 
applying section 11302, and therefore adopting HUD's regulation would 
support a single, nationally applicable definition of ``homeless.'' In 
addition, adopting HUD's regulation would help ensure consistent 
reporting on homelessness across both agencies, as per a recommendation 
from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. It should 
also make the SSVF program clearer for grantees who often provide 
services under various HUD programs as well as SSVF. We do not expect 
that adopting a definition of ``homeless'' that is consistent with 
HUD's definition in 24 CFR 576.2 will impact the veteran families that 
grantees will be able to assist under the SSVF program. Grantees may 
provide services to veteran families who are either homeless or at risk 
of becoming homeless, provided that they meet specific income 
requirements discussed elsewhere in this proposed rulemaking.

62.2 and 62.34(f): Emergency Housing Assistance

    VA proposes to define ``emergency housing'' in Sec.  62.2 as 
``temporary housing provided under Sec.  62.34(f) that does not require 
the participant to sign a lease or occupancy agreement.'' This term 
would be associated with proposed Sec.  62.34(f), which would add 
emergency housing assistance to the list of services that may be 
offered by grantees under the category of ``other supportive 
services.''
    Under SSVF, grantees are authorized to provide supportive services 
to a very low-income veteran family that is homeless and scheduled to 
become a resident of permanent housing within 90 days pending the 
location or development of housing suitable for permanent housing, or 
that has exited permanent housing within the previous 90 days to seek 
other housing that is responsive to the very low-income veteran 
family's needs and preferences. See 38 CFR 62.11(a)(2), (3). Proposed 
Sec.  62.34(f) would authorize grantees to provide emergency housing to 
these individuals, subject to the restrictions set forth in paragraphs 
(f)(1) through (5) and discussed in more detail below. By authorizing 
the limited provision of emergency housing, grantees would be able to 
ensure that participants do not become homeless or homeless for any 
extensive period while they transition to permanent housing or 
otherwise be put at risk pending placement in permanent housing. 
Appropriate provision of emergency housing could include cases in which 
no space is available at a community shelter that would be appropriate 
for placement of a family unit, or where permanent housing has been 
identified and secured but the participant cannot immediately be placed 
in that housing. The current regulations do not authorize grantees to 
provide temporary assistance to a participant under these types of 
circumstances.
    Proposed Sec.  62.34(f)(1) through (5) would limit grantees' 
authority to provide emergency housing assistance to situations in 
which placement in emergency housing would be considered truly 
temporary. These time- and cost-based limitations would ensure the 
integrity of SSVF's mission to assist in the placement of veteran 
families in permanent housing. In cases where the participant would 
require placement in emergency housing more frequently or for a longer 
period of time, it would be more appropriate for the participant to 
obtain assistance from other VA, Federal, State or local programs. The 
time limitation for an emergency housing placement for a single veteran 
is a maximum of 72 hours. This is because VA offers multiple short- and 
long-term community-based transitional housing alternatives, including 
the Grant and Per Diem Program and the Health Care for Homeless 
Veterans contract residential care program, as well as a variety of VA-
based residential care programs. There are fewer comparable 
transitional housing alternatives available for a veteran and his or 
her spouse and/or dependents. As a result, we propose a longer, 30-day 
time limitation for placement of a veteran and his or her spouse with 
dependents in emergency housing. The grantee may also connect veteran 
families with appropriate non-VA resources within the community, such 
as housing programs offered by local governments or non-governmental 
organizations. We would also state that a participant may be placed in 
emergency housing only once during any 3-year period, beginning on the 
date that the grantee first pays for emergency housing on behalf of the 
participant. VA believes that this limit is reasonable because veteran 
households who need more consistent financial assistance would be 
better served by a program that offers longer term financial 
assistance, such as the HUD-VA Supportive Housing Program. Furthermore, 
to ensure that emergency housing is used in support of plans to place 
participants in permanent housing, emergency housing placement would 
only be allowed when permanent housing has been identified and secured, 
and will be available before the end of the period during which the 
participant is placed in emergency housing.
    Further, proposed Sec.  62.34(f)(5) would require the cost of 
emergency housing to be reasonable in relation to the cost charged for 
other available emergency housing, considering, the location, quality, 
size and type of the emergency housing. Emergency housing can be 
costly, and this provision would require grantees to be mindful of the 
cost of such housing and ensure that cost is reasonable relative to 
comparable emergency housing alternatives. We would redesignate current 
Sec.  62.34(f) as proposed Sec.  62.34(g).

62.2, 62.33(h)(2)(i), 62.34(a)(1), 62.34(b)(1) and 62.35(a): Extremely 
Low-Income Veteran Family

    In Sec.  62.2, we propose to add a definition of the term 
``extremely low-income veteran family.'' The term would be defined as 
``a veteran family whose annual income, as determined in accordance 
with 24 CFR 5.609, does not exceed 30 percent of the median income for 
an area or community.'' This definition would essentially establish a 
subgroup of very low-income veteran families who have greater need than 
other very low-income veteran families, whose income may be as high as 
50 percent of the median income for an area or community (under the 
existing Sec.  62.2 definition of the term ``very low-

[[Page 26671]]

income veteran family''). The authorizing statute, 38 U.S.C. 
2044(f)(6), and the current regulation, 38 CFR 62.2, authorize VA to 
vary the income ceiling for an area or to vary the income requirement 
based on family size. Although providing a 30 percent across-the-board 
adjusted median income does not fit within these authorized variances, 
we believe that our proposed identification of extremely low-income 
veteran families is nevertheless within our statutory authority because 
extremely low-income veteran families would, by definition, also meet 
the requirement of very low-income veteran families, and therefore 
would be eligible participants under the statute. Establishing the 
proposed 30 percent median income subgroup would enable SSVF to target 
veteran families with greater need, and provide to them slightly 
increased benefits. It would also remove any unintended disincentive to 
provide services to these veteran families that might arise under the 
current regulations, due to the fact that these families may require 
more intensive assistance and may not meet the grantee's performance 
measures as quickly as veteran families with slightly higher incomes. 
We believe that this is consistent with the authority granted by 38 
U.S.C. 2044 and Congress' intent in establishing SSVF.
    The first additional benefit offered to extremely low-income 
veteran families would appear in Sec.  62.33(h)(2)(i), where we would 
add a sentence authorizing a longer period of coverage for child care 
services provided to extremely low-income veteran families, i.e., 
increasing to up to 9 months in a 12-month period and 12 months during 
a 3-year period. The second additional benefit offered to extremely 
low-income veteran families would appear in Sec.  62.34(a)(1), where we 
would authorize grantees to provide a longer period of rental 
assistance. Where very low-income veteran families are eligible under 
the current rule for up to 5 months per year of rental assistance 
(which we are proposing to increase to 6 months), extremely low-income 
veteran families would be eligible for up to 9 months of rental 
assistance per year, and up to 12 months during any 3-year period. 
Finally, in Sec.  62.34(b)(1) we would offer a grantee authority to 
provide additional utility payment support to extremely low-income 
veteran families for 9 months in any 12 month period and 12 months 
during a 3-year period.
    We believe that veteran families subsisting on an income that is 30 
percent of the median income in their area or community face 
particularly difficult economic circumstances and commensurate barriers 
to placement in or retention of permanent housing, and therefore 
additional relief may be appropriate in accordance with these proposed 
revisions. SSVF is designed to provide families with temporary 
assistance and to facilitate self-sufficiency by working with the 
family to build a sustainable living situation. In doing so, VA must 
minimize the risk that veteran families become dependent on such 
assistance over the long term. The proposed maximums set forth above 
would provide needed short-term assistance without enabling long-term 
dependence on VA to cover essential family expenses. We note that HUD 
has established the 30 percent median income threshold as a determining 
factor to define ``at risk of homelessness.'' See 24 CFR 576.2. 
Therefore, we believe that the 30 percent median is an appropriate 
measure of increased risk of homelessness that would require 
additional, though not permanent assistance. In addition, VA received 
feedback from grantees through the administration of this program 
suggesting that veteran families at lower levels of income are more 
difficult to reach and require more resources in order for the 
interventions authorized under this program to succeed. Based on that 
feedback, we believe that the increased benefit amounts authorized 
under the proposed rule would help ensure that grantees can be 
successful in supporting extremely low-income veteran families.
    We propose to revise Sec.  62.35(a) to state that ``[a] participant 
classified as an extremely low-income veteran family will retain that 
designation as long as the participant continues to meet the other 
eligibility requirements.'' This clarification would enable eligible 
extremely low-income veteran families to receive the extended services 
associated with this designation for the entire time that they remain 
eligible for supportive services, which is important for the reasons 
discussed above. Due to the increased challenges that families with 
extremely low incomes face, income fluctuations that do not exceed the 
maximum threshold are significantly less likely to eliminate the risk 
of homelessness without an extended period of assistance under this 
program. Therefore, we propose to make the maximum benefit available to 
extremely-low income families, notwithstanding increases in income up 
to the 50 percent median income threshold as discussed in the 
definition of ``very low-income veteran family'' in current Sec.  62.2. 
As now, SSVF benefits would cease once a veteran family's income 
exceeds the 50 percent median income threshold.

62.2 and 62.34(e): General Housing Stability Assistance and Emergency 
Supplies

    VA proposes to remove the definition of ``emergency supplies'' in 
current Sec.  62.2. The current rule defines this term as ``items 
necessary for a participant's life or safety that are provided to the 
participant by a grantee on a temporary basis in order to address the 
participant's emergency situation.'' The term is currently used in only 
one regulatory provision, paragraph (e) of Sec.  62.34, which 
authorizes grantees to purchase emergency supplies. Instead, in 
proposed Sec.  62.34(e), we would authorize grantees to provide 
``[g]eneral housing stability assistance.'' This term would be defined 
in Sec.  62.2 as the provision of goods or payment of expenses that are 
directly related to supporting a participant's housing stability, and 
we would refer readers to the substantive authorization of this benefit 
in Sec.  62.34(e).
    Under current Sec.  62.34, grantees are authorized to provide 
certain services that are necessary for maintaining independent living 
in permanent housing and housing stability. In this context, current 
Sec.  62.34(e) authorizes the provision of emergency supplies. Through 
our experience in administering SSVF, we believe that grantees should 
be authorized to provide a broader scope of services under this 
paragraph, which we would refer to as general housing stability 
assistance.
    Proposed paragraph (e)(1) would continue to authorize grantees to 
provide the items that currently are defined as emergency supplies. 
This does not represent a substantive change in regulation or policy.
    Proposed paragraph (e)(2) would authorize grantees to pay for 
certain types of expenses. In order to reduce the potential for misuse 
of funds and generally facilitate management of SSVF grants, we would 
require that payment be made directly to a third party and not to a 
participant. For similar reasons, and because payment of these types of 
expenses is not the primary goal of SSVF, we would limit these payments 
to $1500 per participant for any 3 year period.
    The three classes of expenses that would be authorized by proposed 
paragraph (e)(2)(i) through (iii) relate to a participant's ability to 
gain or keep employment or permanent housing. In our experience 
administering SSVF, costs related to basic employment (such

[[Page 26672]]

as uniforms, tools, certifications, and licenses), basic housing needs 
(such as kitchen utensils, bedding, and other supplies), and securing 
permanent housing (such as fees for housing applications, housing 
inspections, or background checks) are often barriers to a 
participant's success in obtaining and keeping permanent housing.

62.2, 62.11(b), 62.35(a), and 62.36(a): Reclassification of Categories 
of Participants

    Under current Sec.  62.36(a), grantees are required to initially 
classify a participant in one of the 3 categories under Sec.  62.11, 
along with certifying their eligibility, and repeat this process at 
least once every 3 months. Although grantees would still be required to 
certify program eligibility for participants every 3 months, we propose 
to eliminate the requirement that grantees certify the classification 
of each participant under one of the categories set forth in Sec.  
62.11 at least once every 3 months. The initial classification is 
necessary in order to determine the veteran family's eligibility under 
the SSVF program and for the grantee to be able to appropriately track 
grant funds used on different categories of participants. Once a 
grantee determines the classification for the veteran family, the 
grantee develops a strategy with the veteran family that would provide 
the veteran family with the assistance they need during the appropriate 
time period to stabilize their housing situation. The participant's 
category becomes less relevant after the initial classification because 
grantees transition veteran families out of the program once their 
income exceeds the eligibility levels for the SSVF program or they 
enter a sustainable housing situation. Further, if at any time a 
veteran family's income decreases below the extremely-low income 
threshold while receiving SSVF assistance, the veteran family would be 
reclassified in order to receive the expanded levels of assistance 
under the program. Reclassification of participants every 3 months is 
burdensome for grantees and detracts from grantees' ability to develop 
a long-term plan to stabilize veteran families' housing situations. The 
reclassification system is also more difficult for VA, because it is 
more difficult to track the use of grant funds if grantees are 
continuously moving participants among the categories. As a result of 
these various issues, we propose to eliminate this requirement in Sec.  
62.36(a).
    We propose to delete current Sec.  62.11(b) to conform to the 
above-noted proposed change to Sec.  62.36(a). Under the new proposed 
language, grantees would no longer be required to certify a 
participant's occupying permanent housing classification every 3 
months. Therefore, current Sec.  62.11(b) is unnecessary. Additionally, 
we propose to redesignate the remaining paragraphs, and update the 
relevant cross-references that appear in Sec. Sec.  62.2, Sec.  62.35, 
and Sec.  62.36(a).
    Similarly, we propose to revise current Sec.  62.35(a) to conform 
to the above-noted proposed changes to Sec.  62.36(a). Currently, Sec.  
62.35(a) explains that a veteran family is considered to be residing in 
permanent housing after the original 90 days as described in current 
Sec.  62.11(a), provided the veteran family remains scheduled to move 
into permanent housing within a 90-day period. Under the proposed 
revision to Sec.  62.11, as discussed above, grantees would no longer 
be required to certify a participant's occupying permanent housing 
classification every 3 months. Therefore, the exception provided under 
the current Sec.  62.35(a) is no longer relevant. Accordingly, the 
cross reference in the note to Sec.  62.11 would also be modified to 
eliminate the reference to a continuation of services.

62.11: Categories of Participants

    We propose to amend the categories of participants eligible for 
SSVF as set forth in current Sec.  62.11(a). These changes are intended 
to eliminate certain ambiguities that have been identified through the 
administration of the program and more clearly identify VA's goals of 
serving through SSVF those veteran families most in need of assistance 
to obtain or remain in permanent housing. We believe the changes to 
this section are consistent with the authority granted by 38 U.S.C. 
2044 and Congress' intent in establishing SSVF. Furthermore, these 
changes would be consistent with and would make permanent certain 
guidance provided in previous SSVF Notices of Fund Availability. Most 
importantly, the proposed amendments to Sec.  62.11 would require 
grantees to prioritize the use of SSVF funds for those veteran families 
who are in the greatest need of immediate assistance, without excluding 
any veteran families who would currently be eligible for benefits under 
the SSVF program.
    Current Sec.  62.11(a)(1) identifies the first category of 
participants eligible for SSVF funding as those very low-income veteran 
families who are ``residing in permanent housing''. We propose adding 
to this in proposed Sec.  62.11(a) the clause ``and at risk of becoming 
homeless, per conditions in paragraph (b)(1), but for the grantee's 
assistance.'' This provision would enable VA to utilize SSVF's limited 
resources to assist those veteran families that are in permanent 
housing but would otherwise be homeless. We would require the grantee 
to apply this test to all veteran families to whom they would provide 
assistance under the SSVF grant. This ``but for'' standard is similar 
to the one used by HUD in its homelessness prevention programs, which 
allows for consistency between VA and HUD programs. We believe that 
aligning VA's definitions and practices more closely with HUD takes 
advantage of HUD's expertise and success in assisting low-income 
families, including veteran families, to find permanent housing. 
Additionally, as this standard has been included in each Notice of Fund 
Availability that SSVF has issued thus far, this would not result in a 
substantive change in the way SSVF operates. As we have done in the 
past, we plan to include risk factors for the ``but for'' requirement 
in the Notices of Fund Availability. The risk factors provide some 
common factors that would indicate that a veteran family would be 
homeless but for the assistance, but would not comprise an exhaustive 
list. We understand that each veteran family is different, and 
geographic or other valid concerns exist that we would be unable to 
contemplate through the risk factors alone. We would allow grantees to 
consider additional circumstances when applying this ``but for'' test, 
and would require that those circumstances be explained.
    The existing regulations at Sec.  62.11(a)(2) refer to the second 
category of participants as ``homeless and scheduled to become a 
resident of permanent housing within 90 days pending the location or 
development of housing suitable for permanent housing.'' We propose 
amending the first part of this category to better describe what we 
mean by ``homeless.''
    When the SSVF legislation was passed by Congress in 2008, the 
definition of the term ``homeless'' set forth in section 103 of the 
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11302) was narrower 
than it is today. Following the passage of the Homeless Emergency 
Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009, which 
included an amendment to broaden the definition of the term 
``homeless'' in 42 U.S.C. 11302, certain at risk populations now 
qualify under the definition of the term ``homeless.'' We do not think 
that this broader definition is consistent with the spirit of the SSVF 
program, which provides specific types of assistance designed to 
prevent immediate

[[Page 26673]]

homelessness. Therefore, we propose limiting the second category of 
participants to those veteran families who are literally homeless, in 
order to avoid an eligible veteran family being qualified under 
multiple SSVF categories. (Note: those veteran families who are at risk 
of becoming literally homeless would fall only under the first 
category.) We propose to adopt a portion of the language HUD uses in 24 
CFR 576.2 to describe the population of literally homeless 
individuals--those ``lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime 
residence.'' This is further described in proposed Sec.  62.11(b)(1)(i) 
through (iii).
    Additionally, for the same reasons we propose to add the ``but 
for'' language to proposed Sec.  62.11(a), we propose adding Sec.  
62.11(b)(2) to include those who are at risk of remaining homeless as 
described in proposed Sec.  62.11(b)(1) but for the grantee's 
assistance. We would not change the remaining criteria for eligibility 
under current Sec.  62.11(a)(2) except to redesignate this section as 
proposed Sec.  62.11(b)(3).
    Similarly, we propose amending the third category of participants 
in proposed Sec.  62.11(c) to reference the same criteria described in 
proposed Sec.  62.11(b)(1). This change is intended to clarify an 
ambiguity that existed in certain circumstances where a participant 
could qualify under multiple categories. For example, a participant 
could have ``exited permanent housing within the previous 90 days to 
seek other housing that is responsive to the very low-income veteran 
family's needs and preferences'' and be ``residing in permanent 
housing,'' thereby causing confusion as to whether that participant 
should be classified under the first or third categories. Therefore, 
with this change, VA seeks to provide clarity consistent with 38 U.S.C. 
2044 and VA's goals for SSVF. Additionally, we propose to update the 
relevant cross-references to current Sec.  62.11(a)(3) that appear in 
current Sec.  62.35(b).

62.20 and 62.22: Identifying Appropriate Veteran Families

    We propose to amend Sec.  62.20(a) to clarify the requirements for 
a complete supportive services grant application package by including 
in proposed paragraph (a)(2) the reporting requirement that applicants 
describe how they will ensure that participation is limited to very 
low-income veteran families for whom no appropriate housing options 
have been identified and who lack their own financial resources and/or 
support networks to obtain or remain in permanent housing. VA already 
requires that applicants provide this explanation in the existing 
application, but the current regulation is silent on this point. This 
revision would simply provide a more thorough description of the 
existing application requirements.
    We recognize that 38 U.S.C. 2044 both defines very low-income 
veteran families and requires that we provide grants to eligible 
entities that would assist such families. However, due to the limited 
availability of SSVF funding, and based also on our authority to 
``establish criteria for the selection of eligible entities'' under 38 
U.S.C. 2044(c)(3), we believe that the proposed reporting requirement 
is a reasonable implementation of our statutory authority. In addition, 
it accords with our fiscal responsibility to minimize overlap when we 
provide benefits to veterans, to ensure the necessity and integrity of 
each veterans benefits program. Finally, we believe that this language 
would emphasize that SSVF is not an anti-poverty program, or a program 
of general assistance. As such, it is not intended to reach all 
veterans who are in need of financial assistance; rather, SSVF's 
limited purpose and scope are to assist veteran families who are at 
risk of becoming homeless absent SSVF intervention and rapidly re-house 
those that have become homeless.
    Under current Sec.  62.22(b)(2)(i), VA will award up to 25 points 
for applications that among other things, contain a ``feasible outreach 
and referral plan to identify and assist very low-income veteran 
families occupying permanent housing that may be eligible for 
supportive services and are most in need of supporting services.'' We 
would add a reference to the proposed requirements in Sec.  62.20(a)(2) 
in order to ensure that there would be scoring criteria to assess 
whether the grantee has met the proposed criteria in Sec.  62.20(a).

62.31: Supportive Service: Case Management Services

    Current Sec.  62.31 requires grantees to ``provide case management 
services that include, at a minimum'' the requirements set forth in 
paragraphs (a) through (e). We propose to add a requirement to the 
introductory sentence that grantee case management services 
``prioritize housing stability as the primary goal of SSVF services.'' 
This requirement is consistent with the statutory authority and the 
manner in which we have always intended that SSVF programs operate. We 
would explicitly include it under case management services as it is the 
policy of VA to support a housing first model in the approach to 
addressing and ending homelessness. The housing first model establishes 
housing stability as the primary intervention in working with homeless 
persons. This means that grantees should ensure that case managers 
focus on housing before addressing issues such as participants' 
sobriety or mental health.
    We would also add a new requirement in proposed paragraph (f) that 
case management services ``assist[] participants in locating, 
obtaining, and retaining suitable permanent housing.'' Assistance in 
retaining permanent housing is one of the fundamental goals of SSVF, 
and not requiring case management assistance in this regard was an 
oversight in our publication of current Sec.  62.31. Case management 
assistance in locating or obtaining permanent housing is important for 
those participants who require rapid re-housing assistance (and 
therefore may be considered participants in an SSVF program under 
current Sec.  62.11(a)(2) or (3)). The proposed rule would include as 
permissible activities under Sec.  62.31(f) ``identifying appropriate 
permanent housing and landlords willing to work with homeless veteran 
families; tenant counseling; mediation with landlords; and outreach to 
landlords.'' These activities are all consistent with the requirement 
of assistance in locating, obtaining and retaining permanent housing.

62.33: Supportive Service: Assistance in Obtaining and Coordinating 
Other Public Benefits

    Current Sec.  62.33(c) authorizes grantees to assist participants 
in obtaining certain financial planning services. We would amend 
paragraph (c) to authorize grantees to use ``SSVF funds [to] pay for 
credit counseling and other services necessary to assist program 
participants with critical skills related to household budgeting, 
managing money, accessing a free personal credit report, and resolving 
credit problems.'' Such assistance has proved important to ensure that 
participants can maintain permanent housing in a significant number of 
cases administered through SSVF.
    Current Sec.  62.33(d)(3)(i) authorizes grantees to make payments 
on behalf of participants needing car repairs or maintenance in an 
amount of up to $1,000 during a 3-year period. We propose to increase 
this amount by $200 to reflect increased costs and changes in the 
overall financial environment since this rule was originally published.
    Current Sec.  62.33(g) authorizes grantees to provide, or assist 
participants in obtaining, legal services relevant to issues that 
interfere with the

[[Page 26674]]

participant's ability to obtain or retain permanent housing or 
supportive services. Through the administration of this program, 
grantees have sometimes been unsure of the intended scope of this 
paragraph. We propose to amend paragraph (g) to clarify that it is 
intended to broadly encompass matters of employment and financial 
security, and that it includes the authority to pay for related court 
fees. We would add a caveat that ``SSVF funds may not be used to pay 
for court-ordered judgments or fines.'' This prohibition against using 
SSVF funds to pay court-ordered judgments or fines would be consistent 
with proposed Sec.  62.38, which would be cross-referenced in paragraph 
(g). The rationale for this restriction is discussed in greater detail 
below.
    In Sec.  62.33(h), VA proposes to revise the introductory sentence 
to further define age limits for supportive services for child care. We 
propose that the services should be available ``for children under the 
age of 13, unless disabled. Disabled children must be under the age of 
18.'' This would bring the availability of child care services through 
SSVF in conformity with similar regulations issued by HUD. See 24 CFR 
576.102(a)(1)(ii).
    Also related to grantees' authority to pay child care expenses, we 
would amend current paragraph (h)(2)(i), which limits child care 
payments to a period of up to 4 months in a 12-month period. We would 
increase this number to a maximum 6 months in a 12-month period, and 
add an additional restriction that grantees cannot pay for child care 
in excess of 10 months during a 3-year period. These limitations are 
consistent with other 6-month limitations for temporary financial 
assistance offered through SSVF. Grantees have communicated to VA that 
implementing various time limitations for specific benefits is 
cumbersome, and requested that VA provide a single time period for such 
limitations.

62.34: Other Supportive Services

    In addition to authorizing greater rental and utility assistance 
for extremely low-income veteran families for the reasons discussed 
above, we propose to revise Sec.  62.34 to extend grantee authority to 
provide greater rental assistance and utility assistance to all 
participants. For rental assistance, in proposed Sec.  62.34(a)(1), we 
would revise the current restriction of 8 months during any 3-year 
period or 5 months during any 12-month period to 10 months during any 
3-year period or 6 months during any 12-month period. For utility 
costs, we would revise Sec.  62.34(b)(1) to revise the current 
restriction from 4 to 10 months during any 3-year period, and from 2 to 
6 months during any 12-month period.

62.36: Habitability Standards

    Proposed Sec.  62.36(f) would require grantees using supportive 
services funds to provide rental assistance, payments of utilities 
fees, security deposits, or utilities deposits on behalf of a 
participant who is moving into a new (different) housing unit to 
confirm the unit meets the minimum conditions set forth in 24 CFR 
583.300(b). By requiring grantees' use of these HUD habitability 
standards in certain circumstances, VA is encouraging grantees to be 
mindful of the safety and quality of housing to which participants are 
moving. To minimize the burden that this requirement may place on 
grantees, these standards do not require the use of a certified 
inspector. Rather, the habitability standards inspection can be 
performed by grantee staff members. Timely inspections must occur in a 
manner consistent with the goals of rapid re-housing, that is, the 
process should be completed as quickly as possible so that a new 
barrier to housing placement is not created. Regardless, the inspection 
should occur no more than 3 working days after the housing unit has 
been identified. Alternatively, the grantee may rely on timely 
certified inspections that have already been completed by another 
governmental or community agency. We believe it is reasonable to 
consider an inspection timely if it was completed with the past 2 
years. Criteria for these inspections have been added to Sec.  62.34.

62.38: Ineligible Activities

    VA proposes to add a new Sec.  62.38 which would address activities 
and services that cannot be funded through SSVF funds. These 
restrictions are intended to maximize the use of SSVF funds and to 
avoid duplicating services provided by other public programs. VA 
estimates that SSVF is capable of providing direct assistance to 
roughly 67,000 of those veteran families who are eligible to be 
considered participants, so we must limit the use of SSVF resources to 
ensure that we provide assistance that is most directly related to 
preventing homelessness. We do not perceive these prohibited activities 
to be as good or better uses of SSVF resources than those allowed under 
the current regulations.
    In paragraph (a), we propose to prohibit SSVF resources from being 
used to pay for mortgage and other costs associated with home 
ownership. Instances where homeowners become homeless are rare. The 
vast majority of homeowners tend to have more options available to 
them, even after a foreclosure. Therefore, we do not believe that such 
assistance would be the most efficient use of limited SSVF resources.
    In paragraph (b), we would prevent SSVF funds to be used for 
construction or rehabilitation of buildings. The investment of 
resources into infrastructure is complex, and SSVF funds are limited in 
a manner that could not guarantee ongoing funding for such projects. 
Therefore, we do not believe that infrastructure investment as a means 
to prevent homelessness is viable under SSVF.
    Under paragraph (c), we would clarify that SSVF grant funds cannot 
be used to directly pay for any ``[h]ome care and home health aides 
typically used to provide care in support of daily living activities,'' 
and under paragraph (e), we would clarify that SSVF funds cannot be 
used to pay for medical or dental care and medicines. Grantees may 
refer veterans and families for health care treatment or assistance 
with daily living services provided by other public entities, including 
VA where appropriate. However, grantees may not use SSVF funds to pay 
for such care or services as it would represent a duplication of 
available services. VA health care and mainstream entitlements (such as 
Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program) are 
currently available to support such needs.
    Paragraphs (d) through (g) list uses of funds that are prohibited 
specifically because there is little connection to the prevention of 
homelessness. Generally, these items can be addressed through 
alternative means. For example, credit card and other consumer debt may 
be discharged in other ways that do not result in the loss of housing. 
Therefore, it is not necessary to use SSVF for such purpose. SSVF funds 
should not be used to absolve responsibility for court-ordered 
judgments or fines, because the purpose of the program is not to ensure 
participant solvency. Additionally, Sec.  62.34 requires that certain 
types of temporary financial assistance are permissible if paid 
directly to third parties, and providing direct cash assistance to 
participants may result in funds being used for unauthorized purposes.
    Finally, SSVF is not designed to support entertainment or optional 
activities, and therefore, SSVF funds should not be used for pet care 
and entertainment, which would be barred uses under proposed paragraphs 
(h) and (i).

[[Page 26675]]

Comment Period

    Although under the rulemaking guidelines in Executive Orders 12866 
and 13563, VA ordinarily provides a 60-day comment period, the 
Secretary has determined that there is good cause to limit the public 
comment period on this proposed rule to 45 days. VA determined that in 
order to take advantage of increased funding for the SSVF program, 
certain limitations of program benefits should be expanded for those 
veteran families in the greatest need. Because SSVF supports VA's 
homelessness prevention efforts, VA's expedited ability to disburse 
funding to grantees under these revised regulations could potentially 
lead to a decrease in homelessness among very low-income veteran 
families. Therefore, the need to take action is particularly great for 
those veterans and their families who would benefit from the increased 
supportive services funded by SSVF under these revised regulations. 
Accordingly, the Secretary has determined that it would be contrary to 
the public interest to provide for a longer comment period, and VA has 
provided that comments must be received within 30 days of publication 
in the Federal Register.

Effect of Rulemaking

    The Code of Federal Regulations, as proposed to be revised by this 
proposed rulemaking, would represent the exclusive legal authority on 
this subject. No contrary rules or procedures would be authorized. All 
VA guidance would be read to conform with this proposed rulemaking if 
possible or, if not possible, such guidance would be superseded by this 
rulemaking.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Although this action contains provisions constituting collections 
of information, at 38 CFR 62.20, 62.36, and 62.60, under the provisions 
of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521), no new or 
proposed revised collections of information are associated with this 
proposed rule. The information collection requirements for Sec. Sec.  
62.20, 62.36, and 62.60 are currently approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) and have been assigned OMB control number 
2900-0757.
    In proposed Sec.  62.20(a), we would state that the collection of 
information must include a description of how the applicant will ensure 
that the program is targeted to very-low income families. Under the 
current OMB-approved application, VA Form 10-10072, VA requires the 
applicant to ``[d]escribe the proposed outreach and referral plan to 
identify and assist eligible very low-income Veteran families who are 
most in need of supportive services.'' The current application 
specifies that the response should include an explanation of the 
``[i]dentification of target population(s) to be served.'' Because this 
specific question on the application correlates directly with the 
requirement that we propose to add in Sec.  62.20(a), the information 
collection and corresponding burden hours would remain unchanged.
    In a final rule published on November 10, 2010, we stated that OMB 
had approved collections of information contained in, inter alia, Sec.  
62.36(c). 75 FR 68975, 68979-80, Nov. 10, 2010. In both the proposed 
and final regulation, a collection also appeared in Sec.  62.36(a). 
That collection required grantees to classify all participants and 
verify and document participant eligibility at least once every 3 
months. The verification of eligibility is reflected on VA Form 10-
0508b, one of the forms approved by OMB and assigned OMB control number 
2900-0757, which requires quarterly reports of detailed information and 
data on participant screenings and compliance with all SSVF 
requirements. However, the requirement to reclassify participants every 
3 months was not contained on that form. In proposed Sec.  62.36(a), we 
would remove the requirement that grantees reclassify participant 
eligibility every 3 months; however, we retain the requirement that the 
grantee certify participant eligibility. Therefore, although we are 
amending the collection that appears at Sec.  62.36(a), the amendment 
will not result in a change to the form. Moreover, although we omitted 
specific reference to Sec.  62.36(a) in the final rulemaking published 
on November 10, 2010, we did in fact seek approval for the collection 
requirements in VA Form 10-0508b, which appear in this proposed rule. 
Therefore, we do not believe that this rulemaking contains amendments 
to collections approved under OMB control number 2900-0757.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this proposed rule would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 
U.S.C. 601-612. This proposed rule would only impact those entities 
that choose to participate in SSVF. Small entity applicants would not 
be affected to a greater extent than large entity applicants. Small 
entities must elect to participate, and it is considered a benefit to 
those who choose to apply. To the extent this proposed rule would have 
any impact on small entities, it would not have an impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. In FY 2013, 151 organizations 
successfully submitted applications for SSVF funding and would be 
effected by this rule. The changes described in this rule should have a 
positive impact compared to the existing rule as changes would 
generally aid grantees in providing service and thereby reduce time 
demands. On this basis, the Secretary certifies that the adoption of 
this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities as they are defined in the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-612. Therefore, pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 605(b), this rulemaking is exempt from the initial and final 
regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

Executive Order 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; 
and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory 
Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. 
Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a 
``significant regulatory action,'' which requires review by OMB, unless 
OMB waives such review, as ``any regulatory action that is likely to 
result in a rule that may: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of 
$100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, 
a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the 
environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal 
governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or 
otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; 
(3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user 
fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
this Executive Order.''
    The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy 
implications of this regulatory action have been examined, and it has 
been

[[Page 26676]]

determined not to be a significant regulatory action under Executive 
Order 12866. VA's impact analysis can be found as a supporting document 
at http://www.regulations.gov, usually within 48 hours after the 
rulemaking document is published. Additionally, a copy of the 
rulemaking and its impact analysis are available on VA's Web site at 
http://www1.va.gov/orpm/, by following the link for ``VA Regulations 
Published.''

Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 
1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and 
benefits before issuing any rule that may result in the expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for 
inflation) in any one year. This proposed rule would have no such 
effect on State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private 
sector.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers and titles for 
the programs affected by this document are 64.009, Veterans Medical 
Care Benefits and 64.033, VA Supportive Services for Veteran Families 
Program.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document 
to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as 
an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jose D. 
Riojas, Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this 
document on April 15, 2014, for publication.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 62

    Administrative practice and procedure, Day care, Disability 
benefits, Government contracts, Grant programs--health, Grant 
programs--social services, Grant programs--transportation, Grant 
programs--veterans, Grants--housing and community development, Heath 
care, Homeless, Housing, Housing assistance payments, Indian-lands, 
Individuals with disabilities, Low and moderate income housing, 
Manpower training program, Medicare, Medicaid, Public assistance 
programs, Public housing, Relocation assistance, Rent subsidies, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Rural areas, Social security, 
Supplemental security income (SSI), Travel and transportation expenses, 
Unemployment compensation, Veterans.

    Dated: April 30, 2014.
Robert C. McFetridge,
Director, Regulation Policy and Management, Office of the General 
Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department of Veterans 
Affairs proposes to amend 38 CFR part 62 as follows:

PART 62--SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES PROGRAMS

0
1. The authority citation for part 62 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 2044, and as noted in specific 
sections.

0
2. Amend Sec.  62.2 by:
0
a. Removing the definition of ``Emergency supplies''.
0
b. Adding the definitions of ``Emergency housing'', ``Extremely low-
income veteran family'', and ``General housing stability assistance'', 
in alphabetical order.
0
b. Revising the definition of ``Homeless''.
0
c. Revising the definition of ``Occupying permanent housing''.
    The additions and revisions read as follows:


Sec.  62.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Emergency housing means temporary housing provided under Sec.  
62.34(f) that does not require the participant to sign a lease or 
occupancy agreement.
    Extremely low-income veteran family means a veteran family whose 
annual income, as determined in accordance with 24 CFR 5.609, does not 
exceed 30 percent of the median income for an area or community.
    General housing stability assistance means the provision of goods 
or payment of expenses that are directly related to supporting a 
participant's housing stability and are authorized under Sec.  
62.34(e).
* * * * *
    Homeless has the meaning given that term in 24 CFR 576.2.
* * * * *
    Occupying permanent housing means meeting any of the conditions set 
forth in Sec.  62.11.
* * * * *
0
3. Revise Sec.  62.11 to read as follows:


Sec.  62.11  Participants-occupying permanent housing.

    A very low-income veteran family will be considered to be occupying 
permanent housing if the very low-income veteran family:
    (a) Is residing in permanent housing and at risk of becoming 
homeless, per conditions in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, but for 
the grantee's assistance;
    (b)(1) Is lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime 
residence, meaning:
    (i) That the veteran family's primary nighttime residence is a 
public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a 
regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, 
abandoned bus or train station, airport, or camping ground;
    (ii) That the veteran family is living in a supervised publicly or 
privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living 
arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and 
hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, 
State, or local government programs for low-income individuals); or
    (iii) That the veteran family is exiting an institution where the 
veteran family resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an 
emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately 
before entering that institution;
    (2) Are at risk to remain in the situation described in paragraph 
(b)(1) of this section but for the grantee's assistance; and
    (3) Scheduled to become a resident of permanent housing within 90 
days pending the location or development of housing suitable for 
permanent housing; or
    (c) Has met any of the conditions described in paragraph (b)(1) of 
this section after exiting permanent housing within the previous 90 
days to seek other housing that is responsive to the very low-income 
veteran family's needs and preferences.

    Note to paragraph (c): For limitations on the provision of 
supportive services to participants classified under paragraph (c) 
of this section, see Sec.  62.35.


(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 2044)


0
4. Amend Sec.  62.20 by:
0
a. Redesignating paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(7) as paragraphs (a)(3) 
through (a)(8),respectively.
0
b. Adding a new paragraph (a)(2).
0
c. Adding a parenthetical at the end of the section.
    The additions read as follows:


Sec.  62.20  Applications for supportive services grants.

    (a) * * *
    (2) A description of how the applicant will ensure that services 
are provided to very low-income veteran families for whom:

[[Page 26677]]

    (i) No appropriate housing options have been identified for the 
veteran family; and
    (ii) The veteran family lacks the financial resources and/or 
support networks to obtain or remain in permanent housing;
* * * * *

(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information 
collection provisions in this section under control number 2900-0757.)
0
5. Amend Sec.  62.22 by revising paragraph (b)(2)(i) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  62.22  Scoring criteria for supporting services grant applicants.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Applicant has a feasible outreach and referral plan to identify 
and assist very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing 
that may be eligible for supportive services and are most in need of 
supportive services. The plan ensures that the applicant's program will 
assist very low-income families who also meet the requirements of Sec.  
62.20(a)(2).
* * * * *
0
6. Amend Sec.  62.31 by:
0
a. Revising the introductory text.
0
b. In paragraph (d), removing the word ``and''
0
c. In paragraph (e), removing the period at the end of the paragraph 
and adding, in its place ``; and''.
0
d. Adding paragraph (f).
    The revision and addition read as follows:


Sec.  62.31  Supportive service: Case management services.

    Grantees must provide case management services that prioritize 
housing stability as the primary goal of SSVF services and include, at 
a minimum:
* * * * *
    (f) Assisting participants in locating, obtaining, and retaining 
suitable permanent housing. Such activities may include: Identifying 
appropriate permanent housing and landlords willing to work with 
homeless veteran families; tenant counseling; mediation with landlords; 
and outreach to landlords.
0
7. Amend Sec.  62.33 by:
0
a. Revising paragraph (c).
0
b. In paragraph (d)(3)(i), removing ``$1,000'' and adding, in its 
place, ``$1,200''.
0
c. Revising paragraph (g).
0
d. Revising paragraph (h) introductory text.
0
e. Revising paragraph (h)(2)(i).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  62.33  Supportive service: Assistance in obtaining and 
coordinating other public benefits.

* * * * *
    (c) Personal financial planning services, which include, at a 
minimum, providing recommendations regarding day-to-day finances and 
achieving long-term budgeting and financial goals. SSVF funds may pay 
for credit counseling and other services necessary to assist 
participants with critical skills related to household budgeting, 
managing money, accessing a free personal credit report, and resolving 
credit problems.
* * * * *
    (g) Legal services, including court filing fees, to assist a 
participant with issues that interfere with the participant's ability 
to obtain or retain permanent housing or supportive services, including 
issues that affect the participant's employability and financial 
security. However, SSVF funds may not be used to pay for court-ordered 
judgments or fines, pursuant to Sec.  62.38.
    (h) Child care for children under the age of 13, unless disabled. 
Disabled children must be under the age of 18. Child care includes the:
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Payments for child care services must be paid by the grantee 
directly to an eligible child care provider and cannot exceed a maximum 
of 6 months in a 12-month period, and 10 months during a 3-year period, 
such period beginning on the date that the grantee first pays for child 
care services on behalf of the participant. For extremely low-income 
veteran families, payments for child care services on behalf of that 
participant cannot exceed 9 months in a 12-month period and 12 months 
during a 3-year period, such period beginning on the date that the 
grantee first pays for child care services on behalf of the 
participant.
* * * * *
0
8. Amend Sec.  62.34 by:
0
a. Revising paragraph (a)(1).
0
b. Revising paragraph (b)(1).
0
c. Revising paragraph (e).
0
d. Redesignating paragraph (f) as paragraph (g).
0
e. Adding a new paragraph (f).
    The revisions and addition read as follows:


Sec.  62.34  Other supportive services.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) A participant may receive rental assistance for a maximum of 10 
months during a 3-year period (consecutive or nonconsecutive), such 
period beginning on the date that the grantee first pays rent on behalf 
of the participant; however, a participant cannot receive rental 
assistance for more than 6 months in any 12-month period beginning on 
the date that the grantee first pays rent on behalf of the participant. 
For extremely low-income veteran families, payments for rent cannot 
exceed 9 months in any 12-month period and 12 months during a 3-year 
period, such period beginning on the date that the grantee first pays 
rent on behalf of the participant. The rental assistance may be for 
rental payments that are currently due or are in arrears, and for the 
payment of penalties or fees incurred by a participant and required to 
be paid by the participant under an existing lease or court order. In 
all instances, rental assistance may only be provided if the payment of 
such rental assistance will directly allow the participant to remain in 
permanent housing or obtain permanent housing.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) A participant may receive payments for utilities for a maximum 
of 10 months during a 3-year period, such period beginning on the date 
that the grantee first pays utility fees on behalf of the participant; 
provided, however, that a participant cannot receive payments for 
utilities for more than 6 months in any 12-month period beginning on 
the date that the grantee first pays a utility payment on behalf of the 
participant. For extremely low-income veteran families, payments for 
utilities cannot exceed 9 months in any 12-month period and 12 months 
during a 3-year period, such periods beginning on the date that the 
grantee first pays a utility payment on behalf of the participant. The 
payment for utilities may be for utility payments that are currently 
due or are in arrears, provided that the payment of such utilities will 
allow the participant to remain in permanent housing or obtain 
permanent housing.
* * * * *
    (e) General housing stability assistance. (1) A grantee may provide 
to a participant items necessary for a participant's life or safety on 
a temporary basis, in order to address a participant's emergency 
situation.
    (2) A grantee may pay directly to a third party (and not to a 
participant), in an amount not to exceed $1500 per participant during 
any 3-year period, beginning on the date that the grantee first submits 
a payment to a third party, the following types of expenses:

[[Page 26678]]

    (i) Expenses associated with gaining or keeping employment, such as 
obtaining uniforms, tools, certifications, and licenses.
    (ii) Expenses associated with moving into permanent housing, such 
as obtaining basic kitchen utensils, bedding, and other supplies.
    (iii) Expenses necessary for securing appropriate permanent 
housing, such as fees for housing applications, housing inspections, or 
background checks.
    (f) Emergency housing assistance. If permanent housing, appropriate 
shelter beds and transitional housing are not available and subsequent 
rental housing has been identified but is not immediately available for 
move-in by the participant, then a grantee may place a participant in 
emergency housing, subject to the following limitations:
    (1) Placement for a single veteran may not exceed 72 hours.
    (2) Placement for a veteran and his or her spouse with dependent(s) 
may not exceed 30 days.
    (3) A participant may be placed in emergency housing only once 
during any 3-year period, beginning on the date that the grantee first 
pays for emergency housing on behalf of the participant.
    (4) Permanent housing will be available before the end of the 
period during which the participant is placed in emergency housing.
    (5) The cost of the emergency housing must be reasonable in 
relation to the costs charged for other available emergency housing 
considering the location, quality, size, and type of the emergency 
housing.
* * * * *
0
9. Amend Sec.  62.35 by:
0
a. Revising paragraph (a).
0
b. In paragraph (b), remove ``Sec.  62.11(a)(3)'' and add, in its 
place, ``Sec.  62.11(c)'' in all places it occurs.
    The revision reads as follows:


Sec.  62.35  Limitations on and continuations of the provision of 
supportive services to certain participants.

    (a) Extremely low-income veteran families. A participant classified 
as an extremely low-income veteran family will retain that designation 
as long as the participant continues to meet all other eligibility 
requirements.
* * * * *
0
10. Amend Sec.  62.36 by:
0
a. Revising paragraph (a).
0
b. Adding a new paragraph (f).
0
c. Adding a parenthetical at the end of the section.
    The revision and additions read as follows:


Sec.  62.36  General operation requirements.

    (a) Eligibility documentation. Prior to providing supportive 
services, grantees must verify and document each participant's 
eligibility for supportive services and classify the participant under 
one of the categories set forth in Sec.  62.11. Grantees must recertify 
the participant's eligibility as a very low-income veteran family at 
least once every 3 months.
* * * * *
    (f) Habitability standards. (1) Grantees using supportive services 
grant funds to provide rental assistance, payments of utilities fees, 
security deposits, or utilities deposits, as set forth under Sec.  
62.34, on behalf of a participant moving into a new (different) housing 
unit will be required to conduct initial and any appropriate follow-up 
inspections of the housing unit into which the participant will be 
moving. Such inspections shall ensure that the housing unit meets the 
conditions set forth in 24 CFR 583.300(b) and do not require the use of 
a certified inspector. Inspections should occur no later than three (3) 
working days after the housing unit has been identified to the SSVF 
grantee, unless the Alternative Inspection Method is used to meet the 
requirements of this paragraph.
    (2) Alternative Inspection Method. An inspection of a property will 
be valid for purposes of this paragraph if:
    (i) The inspection was conducted pursuant to the requirements of a 
Federal, State, or local housing program (including, but not limited 
to, the Home investment partnership program under title II of the 
Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act or the low-income 
housing tax credit program under section 42 of the Internal Revenue 
Code of 1986);
    (ii) If the inspection was not conducted pursuant to the 
requirements of a Federal housing program, the public housing agency 
has certified to the Secretary that such standard or requirement 
provides the same (or greater) protection to occupants of inspected 
dwelling units;
    (iii) Pursuant to the inspection, the property was determined to 
meet the requirements regarding housing quality or safety applicable to 
properties assisted under such program; and
    (iv) The inspection was conducted within the past 2 years.


(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information 
collection provisions in this section under control number 2900-0757.)
0
11. Add Sec.  62.38 to read as follows:


Sec.  62.38  Ineligible activities.

    Notwithstanding any other section in this part, grantees are not 
authorized to use supportive services grant funds to pay for the 
following:
    (a) Mortgage costs or costs needed by homeowners to assist with any 
fees, taxes, or other costs of refinancing.
    (b) Construction or rehabilitation of buildings.
    (c) Home care and home health aides typically used to provide care 
in support of daily living activities. This includes care that is 
focused on treatment for an injury or illness, rehabilitation, or other 
assistance generally required to assist those with handicaps or other 
physical limitations.
    (d) Credit card bills or other consumer debt.
    (e) Medical or dental care and medicines.
    (f) Direct cash assistance to participants.
    (g) Court-ordered judgments or fines.
    (h) Pet care.
    (i) Entertainment activities.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 2044)


0
12. Amend Sec.  62.60 by adding a parenthetical at the end of the 
section to read as follows:


Sec.  62.60  Program or budget changes and corrective action plans.

* * * * *

(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information 
collection provisions in this section under control number 2900-0757.)

[FR Doc. 2014-10251 Filed 5-8-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8320-01-P