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Federal Grants Help Avert Homelessness

Released 6 September 2013

By Jeb Phillips

The Columbus Dispatch Saturday July 13, 2013 6:09 AM

Four central Ohio agencies learned this week that they will receive almost $2.5 million in federal grants to battle veteran homelessness.

The funds are the first to be awarded in the Columbus area from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' 3-year-old Supportive Services for Families program.

"It's a very sizable amount, and we're excited about it," said Michael Salois, a vice president of Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio, which will receive about $1.26 million.

The federal program hopes to keep "very low-income" veterans and their families from becoming homeless, and helps those who are homeless to make the transition into permanent housing, said Carl Landry, community outreach director for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Columbus.

The money may be used for legal help for veterans' families, child care, health care, education, and limited payments to landlords and utility companies if those payments would prevent homelessness.

The grant to Volunteers of America is to be used for 320 Franklin County veterans' families. The other grants:

• $473,000 to the Salvation Army to serve 100 households in Delaware, Madison, Marion, Morrow and Union counties

• $459,000 to Faith Mission to serve 164 families in Franklin County

• $303,000 to the Licking County Coalition for Housing to serve 80 families in Licking and Knox counties

"We work with 100 households per year currently," including veterans, said Beth Fetzer-Rice, director of housing and disaster services for the Salvation Army of Central Ohio. "If we had 50 (more) veterans, it would overwhelm our program."

The grant, in effect, allows the Salvation Army to double its capacity to help people in five counties, she said. Veterans in the Salvation Army's regular program now will be covered by the grant; that opens more spots for civilian families in the regular program.

Volunteers of America has focused in the past on helping single male veterans, Salois said. The new grant allows the agency to work with families as well. And if the veteran were to leave the family, the family could continue to receive help, he said.

Veterans Affairs officials in Columbus will partner with the agencies and send them low-income veterans who need help, Landry said.

For more information on the national program, call the National Veterans Homeless Call Center at 1-877-424-3838. For local information, call 614-257-5499.

jeb.phillips@dispatch.com

 


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