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New Partnership To Help Homeless Veterans

A Massachusetts-based veterans outreach organization and a Springfield anti-poverty agency have been awarded a federal grant for a partnership to help homeless veterans in western Massachusetts.

   Soldier On and Springfield Partners for Community Action will use $757,000 to provide help to veterans and their families who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.  Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, who announced the federal grant in Springfield on Monday, said the objective is to help people who have served their country get back on their feet.

   Nearly $300 million in grants has been awarded to 319 community agencies in all 50 states by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs  for programs that offer housing stability to veterans.

   Soldier On President and CEO John Downing said the VA is funding a program to help underserved veterans who are at imminent risk of eviction or foreclosure.

   The new partnership is designed to serve 200 veterans’ households in all four counties in western Massachusetts in its first year

   A  myriad of services will be available including temporary financial assistance to pay rent, security deposits, utility bills, child care, and transportation expenses. Paul Bailey, Executive Director of Springfield Partners said the program will also offer help in obtaining VA benefits, health care services, financial planning and credit counseling.

   Charles Rucks, who chairs the board of  the Veterans’ First Outreach Center in Springfield, said he has high hopes for the partnership.

   Soldier On has provided services to homeless veterans in western Massachusetts since 1994. The organization provides transitional housing on the grounds of the VA Medical Center in Northampton. In 2010 Soldier On opened a cooperative housing development in Pittsfield touting it as a national model.

   Springfield Partners is a 50-year old  federally designated Community Action Agency  that helps about 10,000 low-income people annually in the greater Springfield area.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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