New York’s Capital Region and North Country are being awarded more than $150,000 to provide permanent homes for 28 veterans experiencing homelessness.
Area officials gathered Monday in Albany to celebrate the funding announced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The 28 vouchers are allocated to public housing authorities in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Plattsburgh, and Glens Falls, under the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, which officials say combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by the VA.
Capital Region Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko: "We should never ever put two words in our language together, that being homeless and veterans. For those who've done battle on the battlefield for this nation and all for which she stands should not return home with the battle of finding appropriate housing."
Lisa Pugliese is Acting Field Office Director for HUD's New York Regional Office. "What we can do and what we've done here is to create systems and invest resources that make veteran homelessness brief, rare and non-reoccurring. That is the goal that the HUD-VASH supports and the bipartisan group of leaders that is gathered here today to celebrate. I should also mention that HUD also has a note for currently out that is posted for an additional round of HUD-VASH vouchers so that the housing authorities here and others that the deadline is mid-July."
Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga Springs are among cities that have declared an end to veteran homelessness. Verified by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, that declaration means every homeless veteran willing to accept housing has access to it. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan: "You might ask 'Well, if you ended veterans' homelessness, why are we standing here today to accept more vouchers?' And that's because we know that we were able to end homelessness at a point in time. But that this is something that we must be vigilant about and that we have to work on every single day of the years as veterans find themselves in the position of either at risk of becoming homeless or actually becoming homeless for a myriad of circumstances."
Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read says it's often hard to help homeless veterans. "The exact same reasons that make them wonderful contributors to our society, their sense of resilience, their sense of service above self, their sense of commitment to the country, also make it very hard to help them in their homelessness because they are so independent and resilient. They don't ask for anything in return. We have to really redouble our efforts to penetrate and help this population because they're not the ones putting their hands up and asking for the help. But we recognize in our communities, we see in our streets that this is a population that has gone unaddressed."
HUD has funded more than 375 HUD-VASH vouchers in the Capital District and North Country since the program began in 2007.