A call to action to help homeless veterans in Wake County

Though the Triangle is prosperous, more than 1,100 people in Wake County are homeless, and Wake County Human Services reports that more than 100 of those are veterans. How is it possible that those who sacrificed so much for our country are suffering this way?

Passage Home Inc. is calling for help to end veteran homelessness in Wake County. We are in the fourth year of receiving a grant from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families, issued by the Veterans Health Administration under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The SSVF program was established in 2011 to promote housing stability among homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. SSVF provides a range of supportive services including outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits and help in accessing and coordinating other public benefits. In addition, eligible veterans may receive time-limited temporary payments to cover rent, utilities, security deposits and moving costs.

As the only SSVF grantee in Wake County from 2011 to 2013, we were able to serve 65 veterans and their families. During our third year of the grant, 68 veterans and their households were served, surpassing the goal of 60 veterans helped. For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, SSVF has granted additional funds to help an additional 60 veteran families. This shows that Wake County organizations remain steadfast and committed to the challenge.

We are also the recipients of a Grant/Per Diem Transition in Place award. Presented in 2012, the grant helps us provide transitional housing to 30 homeless veterans over the course of two years.

Services such as case management, rental and utility support are also provided during client’s time in the program. We are working with other organizations to help end veteran homelessness by providing short-term services and support that aid the participant in transitioning permanently into housing as services transition out. Since the program’s inception, housing and support have been provided to 21 veterans and their families, and eight families have transitioned into permanent housing.

In an effort to continue this great work, we have been issued an even greater challenge. The Raleigh/Wake County Continuum of Care has been identified as one of 56 high-need communities awarded significant additional SSVF funding from the VA under the Priority 1 funding category.

Dedicated to working with our peers to end veteran homelessness in our county, we have partnered with Volunteers of America of the Carolinas. VOA has been awarded more than $1 million in surge funds to help vulnerable veterans achieve housing stability in Wake County. With a success rate of 84 percent retention of permanent housing and an average cost of $2,480, the SSVF program is a low-cost, high-impact way to make successful interventions.

Another partner, the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness, supports efforts to help our veterans. Its resources are invaluable to be able to meet the needs of countless area veterans. This chronic issue truly requires unrelenting support from the entire community, and the more we work together, the stronger we all become in ending veteran homelessness.

Jeanne Tedrow is CEO of Passage Home Inc. and a board member of the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness.