$700K grant could help end homelessness for local veterans

The local fight to end homelessness among veterans got a boost this week when the state was awarded $700,000 for rental assistance.

The federal funding will help secure stable housing for about 145 homeless veterans in Ohio, including 15 in the Dayton region.

Earlier this year, local groups counted 61 veterans living in shelters, transitional housing or on the streets.

That represented a decrease of 46 percent from the homeless veteran count in 2015.

The Dayton area is on track to end veteran homelessness later this year, said Kathleen Shanahan, program coordinator for Montgomery County Homeless Solutions.

“It doesn’t mean no veteran will ever become homeless again,” she said. “But we’ll have a systematic response, so veteran homelessness will be prevented whenever possible, and when it’s not possible to prevent, it will be rare, brief and non-recurring.”

HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Thursday it has awarded 145 vouchers to help homeless veterans in Ohio make rent payments for privately owned housing.

Veterans in the program typically pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

The additional 15 vouchers will bring the total of number of VA supportive housing vouchers administered by the Greater Dayton Premier Management to 198, said Jennifer Heapy, CEO of the public housing agency.

“No veteran should be without a place to call home,” she said.

There were about 114 homeless veterans counted in Dayton in January 2015, down 13 percent from the previous year’s count.

Earlier this year, advocates counted 60 veterans living in a shelter or in VA-funded transitional housing, as well as one vet who was living on the streets.

Fifty of those veterans were connected to resources to help work out a housing plan.

The community has made ending veteran homelessness a priority, and within months it should achieve that goal because of the right mix of resources, commitment and partnership, said Shanahan.

Veterans in shelters are quickly connected to resources through the VA, and three-quarters of them spend less than 30 nights in a shelter, she said.

People who show up at local shelters seeking temporary housing are asked right away if they are veterans, because there are a variety of resources targeted specifically for this population, she said.