Helping Homeless Veterans Get Back on Their Feet
Joy, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, lost her business amid the 2008 financial crisis, and was forced to live out of her van. Being homeless made even relatively simple tasks complicated, but over time, Joy found that she was growing accustomed to homelessness, making it even harder for her to get back to work. It wasn’t until Joy enrolled in the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency’s Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program, or HVRP, that she was able to get back on her feet. The center helped her find a home and a sense of purpose, and even hired her as a veteran outreach specialist.
Funded by the Labor Department, HVRP provides services to help homeless veterans reenter the workforce, which in turn gets them back on track in other aspects of life. Services include occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, including follow-up services. Real employment opportunities help veterans reach both financial stability and independence.
HVRP programs are available throughout the country in different regions and neighborhoods, though the majority of these programs are in urban areas where homeless veterans tend to be heavily concentrated.
HVRP has been helping homeless veterans since it was authorized in 1987 under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. In 2010, the program expanded its scope to include services for homeless female veterans, veterans with families, and formerly incarcerated veterans. This year, the department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service expects to award approximately $12 million in HVRP awards.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 39,471 homeless veterans as of 2016. Thanks to the efforts of HVRP and other local veteran assistance programs, this number has decreased 48 percent since 2009, but as long as any single veteran remains homeless, there is work to be done.
Through their admirable service, veterans like Joy who face adversity after transitioning back to civilian life have earned some help from their country. Through programs like HVRP, we honor the men and women who served by giving them an opportunity to reach their goals and become who they want to be.
Kenneth Fenner is the competitive grants lead at the department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. Stay connected by following @VETS_DOL on Twitter and visiting www.veterans.gov