What is Shallow Subsidy?

Desiree Willmuth

You’ve read about Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) clients who receive help through the Shallow Subsidy service, but do you know how that service works?
“Shallow Subsidy acts as a bridge between the traditional SSVF program and self-sufficiency” says SSVF director Desiree Willmuth. Shallow Subsidy is not a separate program but a new service provided by SSVF. Shallow Subsidy began Oct. 1, 2021 and allows up to two years of rental assistance. “SSVF pays half of their rent during that time. It gives people time to work toward a sustainable budget. This could include increasing their income through better employment or pursuing Social Security or VA disability claims and/or decreasing expenses by paying off debt or finding more affordable housing.” With that goal in mind, SSVF does not penalize the client for increasing their income. An increase in income will not trigger a decrease in the subsidy throughout the duration of the Shallow Subsidy enrollment period.
To be eligible, the Veteran must be enrolled in SSVF and must not be receiving other Federal Housing subsidies such as HUD-VASH or a Housing Choice Voucher. “They might not be eligible for housing vouchers due to certain types of legal issues, or their income may be too high. Sometimes it can be as simple as no vouchers being available.” Clients must also be able to pay their half of the rent while receiving Shallow Subsidy as SSVF is not permitted to provide additional rental assistance during this time.
Ms. Willmuth continued “We evaluate every client for Shallow Subsidy. We help them with a detailed budget and if they have a deficit, or only a small surplus, we see what it would look like with the Shallow Subsidy help. We also look at the plan for self-sufficiency. Maybe rental help will allow them to pay off a debt such as medical bills or a car repair. Maybe it will give them a chance to finish their education to get a better job. It could also mean the difference between staying housed or becoming homeless again while they wait for a voucher or income-based housing. The regular SSVF program is a maximum of six to nine months depending on income, and for some that’s not long enough to become self-sufficient. They end up cycling in and out of homelessness. Shallow Subsidy can bridge that gap, allowing these clients to achieve real long-term success.”