VA increases grant for homeless veterans

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs increased a grant to Volunteers of America of North Louisiana, which will allow the agency to expand its service to veterans who are homeless or facing homelessness.

The organization’s grant increased by 36 percent to $465,000 for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.

“This just means additional resources to house veterans,” said Gary Jaynes, director of veteran services. “Last year, we had to stop homeless prevention because we ran out of funds.”

Louisiana is home to nearly 10,000 homeless veterans, and countless more are living with friends or are approaching homelessness. SSVF seeks to find new living arrangements for those in crisis or keep families in their homes.

The grant was first awarded to Volunteers of America in October 2011. In the year ending July 15, 2013, Volunteers of America North Louisiana served 266 veterans and their families in the Shreveport and Alexandria areas. Of those 81 percent found permanent housing. Veterans also received assistance with utilities, transportation, child care, and other needs.

The program is open to very low-income veterans and those with families who are in permanent housing or have just left permanent housing. We will provide counseling and assistance in cases of loss or reduction of income, disability, medical crises or other circumstances that could lead to homelessness without preventative measures.

All participants will work individually with staff to return to independence.

The local grant is part of a $2 million award given to Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans, which also includes Baton Rouge. SSVF is part of an ongoing effort by the Veterans Administration to work with nonprofit organizations to address the crisis of homeless veterans.

To apply for assistance, the veteran should contact Volunteers of America North Louisiana, 520 Olive St., Shreveport La. 71104. They can call 318.429.7500, or those out of area can call 1-800-222-3196.

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