DETROIT, July 28, 2011 – – The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has awarded Southwest Solutions a nearly $1 million grant to help low-income veterans and their families stabilize their housing situation and connect to other services and resources they need.
The initiative will serve about 425 veterans and particularly targets veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
The grant issues from a new VA prevention program called Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), which the VA regards as a critical component in its effort of prevent and end homelessness among veterans.
This week, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced the first SSVF grants. In total, $60 million was awarded to 85 different non-profit community agencies across the country.
“This new homeless prevention program will provide additional comprehensive support to veterans who have served honorably, and now find themselves in a downward spiral toward despair and homelessness,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “This program expands our capacity to act before a veteran becomes homeless and to target the problem of family homelessness. These grants would not have been possible without the extraordinary partnerships forged with community organizers who are firmly committed to making a positive difference in lives of veterans and their families.”
With this funding, Southwest Solutions will outreach veterans at risk of becoming homeless and then provide short-term financial assistance to pay rent, rental arrearages, security deposits, utility bills, moving costs, other housing related costs, and childcare.
In addition, case managers will assist veterans and their families to obtain VA and other public benefits, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and opportunities for skill building, job training and education. Case managers will work closely with veteran-serving agencies and community partners to facilitate veterans accessing these services.
“The mission of the SSVF program is to improve the quality of life for veterans and their families and to help veterans achieve independence and reintegrate into the community,” said Jamie Ebaugh, director of the Housing Resource Center (HRC) at Southwest Solutions.
Southwest Solutions’ SSVF program will be implemented through the HRC is expected to begin in September.
Because the SSVF program is a short-term intervention, it is intended for veterans who have good familial or personal supports that would enable them to take advantage of the program and move toward self-sufficiency. To be eligible for the program, veterans must be at risk of becoming homeless soon. Risk factors include notice of eviction, living in condemned, substandard or doubled-up housing, threat of utility shut-off, sudden loss of income, or spending more than 50% of income on housing.
It is estimated that about 25,000 civilian veterans in Wayne County are very low-income and at risk of becoming homeless. Of these, more than 6,000 live in Detroit.
As the U.S. military draws down its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, more veterans will be returning to the nation and the Detroit area, often after serving multiple tours of duty. Studies show that many of these veterans have a difficult time reintegrating into civilian society. In addition, current high unemployment rates make the adjustment even harder.