It’s a problem that affects African-American veterans more than any other group of veterans. According to data from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 56% of the nation’s homeless vets are African Americans. But the federal government has announced that $100 million in federal grants are available to assist those agencies charged with assisting servicemen and women who have fallen on hard times.
The focus of the resources will be on programs that target those at risk of losing their homes. Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, said in a statement, “By putting more resources into prevention services for people at risk of being homeless, we will continue to help veterans and their families get back on their feet and turn their lives around.”
Some 35,000 veterans and families are expected to be helped. “The problems that lead to homelessness begin long before veterans and their families are on the streets,” Shinseki said.
An estimated 22,000 veterans received help last year when the Veterans Administration provided $60 million to non-profit community agencies across the country. Funding is available for groups that assist with a number of needs from child care and rent to utilities and transportation.
The Department of Veterans Affairs made a commitment to end veteran homelessness in five years by making programs and services more accessible.
The announcement is welcome news as thousands of troops return home for the holidays after serving in Iraq. This announcement is just the latest in a number of moves the administration is showcasing to help those in the military make the transition to civilian life. The president has also called for a measure that would give tax credits for some employers who hire veterans with marketable skills.
Non-profit groups have until Feb. 15, 2012, to apply for the grants. In the meantime, a series of seminars are planned from Dec. 13 to Jan. 12 in San Francisco, Denver, Baltimore, Atlanta and Kansas City. To find more information about training workshops or to apply for funding contact the V.A.’s website: www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.
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