Cumberland County ends veteran homelessness

FAYETTEVILLE — Cumberland County assisted 279 homeless Veterans to get off the streets and into permanent housing thus ending Veteran homelessness. The announcement will be made during a proclamation ceremony that will be held on Friday, Oct. 23, at the Fayetteville VAMC at 2:30 p.m.

This initiative was accomplished throughout 2015 through collaborative efforts among several key member agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the Cumberland County Continuum of Care, nonprofit agency, Family Endeavors, Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson’s Office, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners and the community.

“There will always be homeless Veterans in Cumberland County, but now we have the resources and coordinated system to transition homeless Veterans into permanent housing within 30 days,” said Laressa Witt, Family Endeavors’ Veteran Services Program Manager. “No Veteran should be forced to live on the streets of Cumberland County.”

Since late 2014, the Fayetteville VA Medical Center and Family Endeavors has targeted outreach activities to identify homeless Veterans at shelters, feeding stations, the hospital, schools, churches, transitional housing, libraries and the police station. The outreach also extended to underpasses, bus stations, tent cities and wooded areas.

Cumberland County has the capacity to connect Veterans to permanent housing through Supportive Services for Veteran Families Temporary Financial Assistance and vouchers offered through HUD-VASH, a joint program between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

If permanent housing isn’t immediately available, Veterans are offered temporary housing at emergency shelters, transitional homes, or hotel vouchers while housing is secured often through private landlords.

Currently, there are 13 Veterans waiting to be assisted into permanent housing, said Witt, adding of those Veterans, five are unsheltered and eight are sheltered. Each Veteran has a Housing Stability Plan and a case manager who makes weekly contact.

The VA program Supportive Services for Veteran Families offers further assistance programs to homeless Veterans such as employment, legal services and consumer credit counseling.