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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer joined community partners today to announce a major success in the commitment to end veteran homelessness in Louisville.
In July, 2014, Fischer joined other mayors across the country signing First Lady Michelle Obama's Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. In January, Fischer unveiled his ambitious plan to eliminate veteran homelessness in Louisville by the end of this year. Today, the mayor announced that the initiative found permanent housing for the 360 known homeless veterans in the city with the help of resources from more than 15 local agencies.
“We don’t just want to address veteran homelessness in our city,” Fischer said. “We want to end veteran homelessness in our city. That’s the kind of approach that the men and women who’ve served our country took in defending our freedom and our security.”
“The progress in Louisville is proof that cities can develop best practices and create collaborative systems necessary to make veteran homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring,” said Christopher Taylor, HUD’s Kentucky Field Officer Director.
The coalition of partners also helps veterans get the services and help they need.
“Obviously, this is an ongoing effort since new veterans are still returning home,” Taylor said. “But achieving this goal means that we’ve new found and effective ways to help Louisville veterans find the housing they need and deserve.”
Louisville was one of the first cities to accept the nationwide challenge, and is among those leading the way in finding solutions.
The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness is reviewing Louisville’s work and will make a decision to classify the city as having met the federal requirements of ending veteran homelessness.
New Orleans, Houston, Phoenix, Winston-Salem, Mobile and Salt Lake City are the only other cities who have reached this level of success.
“Our community responded to this challenge with compassion and conviction,” Fischer said. “We have the systems and resources in place to prevent and address homelessness in the future. We have also learned some valuable lessons that will help other men, women and children who face homelessness in our community.”
Through the initiative, eligible homeless veterans are issued housing vouchers provided by federal, state and local resources including the Veterans Administration - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ESG (Emergency Solutions Grant via Louisville Metro Community Services), SSVF (Supportive Services for Veterans Families via Volunteers of America) and Section 8 (via Louisville Metro Housing Authority). Those not eligible for federal assistance are assessed and referred to other resources that provide permanent supportive housing, case management and health and employment resources.
Taylor credited Louisville's success with bringing together organizations and agencies that had not previously worked together or shared data in the past.
Coordinated by The Coalition for the Homeless, the veterans housing program unites the efforts of more than 15 agencies, including Volunteers of America (VOA), Robley Rex VA Hospital Homeless Programs, state of Kentucky Governor’s Office, St. Vincent de Paul, Interlink Counseling Services, Family Health Centers (FHC), the Salvation Army St. John Center, The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs (KDVA) and Legal Aid Society among others.
Housing is only one component of Louisville’s commitment to veterans. Mental and physical health, access to education and employment opportunities and participation in community life are essential. The Veterans Community Alliance of Louisville (VCAL) – an initiative launched in 2014 by a group of young professionals participating in Leadership Louisville’s IGNITE program in conjunction with Volunteers of America Mid-States and Seven Counties Services has created a community-wide, collaborative initiative to coordinate veteran services and ensure a seamless system of care.
How to help homeless veterans:
● Citizens are encouraged to call 637-BEDS for more resources if they know a veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.
● Landlords or property managers who would like to get involved can call John Miles –Louisville Metro Department of Community Services - at 574-5050.
● Businesses wanting to hire more veterans or assist with their transition back to employment by providing mentoring and training opportunities can visit whereopportunityknox.com.