Homeless vets are getting some help from new federal grants. Public housing agencies in Minneapolis and St. Paul recently were awarded $406,000 to supply permanent housing and case management for 75 homeless state veterans.

The city of Minneapolis gets $298,128 for 50 housing vouchers, and the Minnesota Public Housing Agency of St. Paul gets $162,378 for 25 vouchers.

The funding comes through the Housing and Urban Development's Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. It is designed to provide permanent housing for homeless veterans.

The 75 new vouchers will add to the 215 the Minneapolis VA Medical Center currently has for homeless veterans in Minneapolis and St. Paul. A 2009 Wilder Research survey found that one in five homeless men in the state has served in the military and the number of homeless female vets has doubled from 2006 to 2009. Overall, the number of homeless vets increased 7 percent during the same period.

Homeless veterans are referred to the public housing agencies for "Housing Choice" Section 8 vouchers to assist with rent payment. They generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

Veterans who meet eligibility requirements receive VA-provided case management and services to support stability and recovery from physical and mental health conditions, substance abuse, and any functional concerns that might contribute to their homelessness.

The VA says an earlier program demonstrated that veterans could become permanently housed.

To qualify, veterans must be homeless and eligible for VA health care, and they need to participate in case management services to obtain and sustain permanent housing. More information is available at www.va.gov/homeless.

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434