I’m glad to see community members raising questions about what we are doing to end veteran homelessness in Buncombe County. No one who has served our country should be left to live in a car, a camp or a shelter.
Together with our community, Homeward Bound is ending veteran homelessness in Buncombe County. Our partnership with the city of Asheville and the Department of Veterans Affairs resulted in a $2.7 million grant to implement the SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families) program to move veterans from streets, shelters and temporary housing into permanent housing of their own. We’re working to make sure that we don’t duplicate services that are already in the community but rather fill in the gaps so no veteran is left homeless.
Since getting our team up and running in January 2015, we’ve housed 28 veterans — men and women who live here and have served our country. So far, we have a 100 percent retention rate. By the end of May, we’ll house another 15 people. Our team consists of case managers, an outreach worker who works to find unsheltered and chronically homeless vets, and a housing specialist who is tackling our biggest challenge — finding affordable housing.
We’re excited about the progress that we are making in battling veteran homelessness. That said — we have 37 clients in line for housing. We have funds for housing, and we have staff to provide relational and practical support for our clients — but we continue to look for housing to move them into. Our biggest challenge in serving these families is finding housing that is affordable.
Readers who want to help a veteran by offering a vacant apartment or trailer should contact Kelly Freeman at 772-2846.
And for those who are interested in learning more about this problem overall, consider attending our Forum on Veteran Homelessness this fall. It will be held on Nov. 12, and information and tickets will be found on our website — www.homewardboundwnc.org — in the coming months.
— Beth Russo
Director of Communications and Annual Campaign
Homeward Bound of WNC