When veterans return from war and can’t find jobs, they may live in poverty and get their meals from soup kitchens. In 2009, the
American Community Survey
estimated that about 1.4 million veterans lived in poverty. But there is help out there for veterans who are struggling to make ends meet.
In 2009, the federal government called for an end to veteran homelessness by 2015. To help achieve this goal, the Department of Veteran Affairs
awarded agencies across the country with the Supportive Services for Veterans and Families
grant. The grant enables organizations that help the homeless to expand their reach to veterans and their families who are at-risk for becoming homeless.
Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries
is one of nearly 185 agencies to receive the grant this year. It was awarded $600,000 to provide housing stabilization services for veterans and their families.
Starting Oct. 1, Goodwill will partner with Strategies to End Homelessness
and The Healing Center
to assist homeless veterans in Cincinnati. The three organizations will work to refer their customers to the other organizations if they are in need of different services.
Strategies to End Homelessness started in 2007 to oversee the allocation of federal funding for the homeless in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. It is involved with many organizations in the area and helps with shelter diversion, oversees street outreach and helps find emergency housing for those in need. Although the federal stimulus money designated to aid homeless veterans ran out in July, the organization hasn’t stopped helping them.
The agency’s Central Access Hotline will play a role in helping vets find shelter. The grant allows Strategies to End Homelessness to identify callers who are veterans and connect them to Goodwill.
The Healing Center will provide food, personal care items, household goods, clothing and a wide range of job support services to veterans, including one-on-one job coaching, support groups for job seekers and computer training.
“The Supportive Services grant allows us to continue to provide a high level of service to veterans and their families,” says Kevin Finn, executive director of Strategies to End Homelessness.
The Healing Center helps about 1,500 households a month.
“The grant provides The Healing Center the opportunity to take our relationship with Goodwill to the next level and provide holistic support to veterans and their families,” says Monica Roberts, associate director of program development for The Healing Center.
The Ohio Valley Goodwill has been helping veterans for about 20 years; last year, Goodwill provided services to more than 650 veterans in the area.
Previously, the Ohio Valley Goodwill received two Department of Labor grants that were designated for helping homeless veterans find employment, a VA grant and HUD housing grants, says Bill Darnell, the grants manager for Ohio Valley Goodwill.
“Our job is to make sure the resources in our community are used to help homeless people or those at risk of becoming homeless as strategically as possible,” says Finn. “This grant is a great new service.”
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter