Newswise — New York State will be more ready than ever to put an end to veteran homelessness in the coming year. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has recently announced that NYS has secured more than triple the amount of funding previously awarded for support of the veteran community, allowing for an easier transition back into civilian life for our nation’s military men and women, and their families.
“This funding is the first step in ensuring our veteran families gain access to resources and services where they live and work – in their communities – to help them transition successfully from military service,” says Colonel (Ret.) Jim McDonough, Senior Director of Community Engagement and Innovation at the Institute for Veteran and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF). McDonough believes that the VA’s recent investment in the nonprofit sector will provide a ‘rally point’ from which resources from various sectors can be better aligned to serve veterans, bringing NYS one-step closer to President Obama’s goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
The IVMF served as a key player in securing the $26 million in grants to be awarded to 23 Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) in the coming federal fiscal year, up from a total of $8.2 million in the previous year. The funding will prevent homelessness among 7,000 veteran households in New York State.
The IVMF’s efforts were fueled by a NYS Health Foundation grant, which provided funding to establish the nation’s first state-based SSVF Direct Training and Technical Assistance Center (DTA). Acting in concert with the Rochester Veterans Outreach Center, the IVMF DTA staff assisted local organizations seeking to secure VA grants, enabling communities interested in better serving veterans and their families to expand their impact. These efforts will continue to serve NYS by convening organizations to improve services, and provide training and technical assistance to programs in order to ensure that they have access to cutting-edge methods to prevent veteran homelessness.
John Kuhn, Acting Director of the VA’s SSVF Program Office, commended the IVMF for their efforts to help deliver quality funding applications for the VA’s consideration. “IVMF’s partnership with SSVF grantees has strengthened New York State’s ability to serve homeless and at-risk veteran families. We look forward to their continued involvement as we work together to end the scourge of veteran homelessness throughout New York State,” said Kuhn.
The SSVF program supports a partnership between community nonprofits and the VA to provide services to very low-income veterans and their families living in – or transitioning to – permanent housing. The program supports the VA’s efforts to prevent at-risk veterans from becoming homeless as well as rapidly re-housing those who have recently fallen into homelessness.
Beginning in October, communities from Long Island to Buffalo will have resources exclusively organized to serve New York State veterans and their families. This ensures that New York State will have near-complete county coverage for services and supports to prevent homelessness among veterans and their families. The community organizations selected to receive SSVF funding will provide a range of services that promote housing stability and connect veterans’ families to benefits counseling, legal services and other forms of assistance. The organizations will allow the capability to offer temporary financial assistance for rent and utility payments, security deposits and moving costs. A complete map of all SSVF providers in New York State can be accessed here.
James R. Knickman, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York State Health Foundation, was pleased with the VA’s announcement. “An essential piece of ensuring veteran families’ health and well-being is expanding access to community-based services that meet their unique needs. IVMF and the Veterans Outreach Center have played central roles in increasing the capacity of community organizations throughout New York State to better serve veterans and to secure federal funding that will help sustain needed services,” said Knickman.
Now being viewed as a national model for replication, the IVMF’s DTA initiative will transition to assisting the selected grantees with establishing and executing their SSVF programs as well as preparing them for accreditation to ensure sustainable funding in the future.
More about the DTA is available on its new website: http://ssvfdta.vets.syr.edu/. For more information about the initiative contact either Colonel James D. McDonough, Jr., U.S. Army (Retired), Senior Director for Community Engagement and Innovation at [email protected] or Gary Shaheen, Director of Community Based Technical Support Initiatives at [email protected].
For more information about the VA’s SSVF program and the organizations across New York State selected to receive SSVF funding visit http://www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp. For information regarding the New York State Health Foundation’s veterans’ initiatives visit http://nyshealthfoundation.org/priority-areas/other-focus-areas/veterans-health/.