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Federal Grants Help Transition Homeless Vets to Housing


The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) continues to increase federal grants to fund housing for homeless veterans, the Boston Globe reported Nov. 8.

The housing programs often provide treatment for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and other drug addiction, and physical disabilities.

For Bob Hall, 54, who was in the Coast Guard, the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill, Mass., has helped him get sober and has provided a part-time job and other skills that could help Hall find full-time employment and his own apartment.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are just some of the programs that are available in Haverhill to help veterans make a smooth transition from the streets to housing, according to John Ratka, the center's executive director.

The VA's federal funding for transitional housing for homeless veterans has increased from $92.7 million to $171.6 million over the past four years. The number of veterans who are homeless has decreased from 196,000 to 131,000 during that time.

Advocates say veterans still make up about 25 percent of the homeless population in the U.S., however.

The VA has allocated $8 million this year to provide 1,137 beds for approximately 1,750 veterans who are homeless in Massachusetts.

An increasing number of homeless veterans are making the transition from the streets to housing in Massachusetts, said Pete Dougherty, who heads the VA Homeless Program Office in Washington, D.C. There were more than 2,000 homeless vets in Massachusetts last year.

The increase in federal dollars to fund housing for homeless veterans shows that the government is “serious about eliminating a national problem,” said Dougherty.

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