By Jim Shay
On Friday morning, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy and U.S. Representative Jim Himes announced that Applied Behavioral Rehabilitation Institute (Homes for the Brave) in Bridgeport secured $137,410 in Special Needs Grants from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to renovate their transitional housing facility and purchase a new van.
Homes for the Brave will receive $114,660 to improve the safety, security, and privacy of their 42-bedroom 665 Park Ave. home as well as $22,750 to purchase a van that will help in the outreach effort as well as transportation of homeless veterans.
While the VA has, through federal programs and community partnerships, reduced the number of homeless veterans by 17 percent since 2009, recent statistics show that approximately 60,000 veterans are living on the street or without stable housing -- including as many as 640 in Connecticut.
VA Secretary Shinseki has stated that the agency is working toward eliminating veteran homelessness by 2015.
Blumenthal said in a press release, "These funds are a small down payment on our debt to hundreds of homeless veterans in Connecticut. None of our nation's heroes should be homeless. This grant is a small start toward meeting a larger need -- a national priority of ending veteran homelessness. One out of every three homeless is a veteran -- more than 640 in CT alone -- a national disgrace."
"ABRI has done incredible work to help homeless veterans in the Bridgeport area, and I'm thrilled that today's funding will further ABRI's work to eliminate the epidemic of veteran homelessness in Southwest Connecticut," said Murphy.
"One homeless vet is too many, and given the incredible sacrifices our veterans have made for this country, it's our obligation to provide them with the best housing support possible. This grant will not only expand outreach to homeless veterans in Bridgeport, but will also significantly improve existing housing to make veterans safer. I've made ending veterans' homelessness a priority during my time in Congress, and I'll continue to fight to ensure that the men and women who have served us get the housing support they deserve."
"Our men and women in uniform sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and ask for so little in return. It is unacceptable that when these brave patriots return from service, some have no job or no home waiting for them," said Himes. "I am pleased that Applied Behavioral Rehabilitation Institute has received funding for a new outreach van and for renovations to their facilities, and I look forward to working with them to ensure Bridgeport's homeless veterans get the help they need and have earned."
Founded in 1998, ABRI received funding from the VA, Connecticut Department of Social Services, corporations, and foundations to purchase and renovate 665 Park Avenue in 2001. The organization has served hundreds of veterans and non-veterans since it has been in service.