The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released a first-time report on homeless veterans stating that veterans represent 12% of all homeless persons. With the support of the Obama administration, VA and HUD plan to eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015.
Two Veterans Affairs programs for homeless veterans in Colorado Springs are part of that effort. The HUD/VA Supported Housing (HUD/VASH) program and the Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Shelter Plus Care program are located in the VA clinic building at 25 N. Spruce Street. Both provide HUD housing vouchers, case management, and medical/mental health/substance abuse treatment for homeless veterans. They also provide outreach to the vets with donations and the help of volunteers. HUD/VASH and Shelter Plus currently manage 74 vouchers for homeless vets in Colorado Springs and are hopeful of being authorized dozens more under the new strategy to end homelessness among veterans.
Until they can be accommodated by these local programs, homeless veterans are living in shelters, motels, campsites, friends’ or relatives’ homes, storage containers or their cars. When they enter the VA homeless programs, the housing vouchers only provide for an empty apartment. These vets need food and household items such as furniture, kitchen items, bedding, towels, lamps, and toiletries. Dressers and new mattresses are especially needed at the present time. The Mattress Firm in Colorado Springs offers a special low price on mattress sets for veterans in these programs, but the vets don’t have funds with which to buy mattresses. Cash donations help with new mattresses, bus passes, emergency food, rent, motel or gas money, and other urgent needs. Tax receipts for charitable donations are available.
Veterans in these programs may be WWII, Korean War, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan vets. Some have families; some are women. You can help - by offering jobs, by donating cash or gift cards, by fund-raising, by donating items, or by providing free meals at restaurants. Donations can be dropped at the Homeless Programs office on the 2nd floor in the VA clinic building or picked up by volunteers. To help these local homeless veterans programs, please call volunteers, Bunny at 471-8527 or Judith at 685-1965.