Today, Congressmen Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) announced that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) will award a $2 million renewal in federal grant funding to Soldier On to assist veterans and their families who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless in Essex, Hudson, and Bergen Counties.
"I am pleased that Soldier On will be able to continue its tremendous efforts in reducing veterans homelessness in Northern New Jersey," said Rep. Payne, Jr. "The veterans and their families who have selflessly served our country deserve to return home to a good job, decent healthcare, and a roof over their heads. I am proud of the work Soldier On has performed over the last year in serving our veterans. This grant renewal is well-deserved and much needed in the 10th District."
Soldier On is a leader for community-based homeless and at-risk veterans' housing services. With the VA's help, Soldier On will be able to continue to provide a mobile door-to-door outreach campaign in coordination with local organizations to assist the needs of veterans throughout Essex, Hudson, and Bergen Counties. Soldier On has 17 years of experience developing transitional and permanent housing and successfully creating innovative homeownership opportunities in underserved areas. The grant is a part of the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) Program that helps the VA in its fight against veteran homelessness.
"We are very grateful to the VA for creating a program that identifies underserved veterans and allows us to respond immediately to the crises in their lives," said Soldier On President and CEO John Downing. "The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program allows us to intervene and stabilize veterans and their family members in the living situation that they are now in so that they don't have to face the difficulties of homelessness."
The SSVF grants prevent at-risk veterans from becoming homeless and rapidly re-housing those who have recently fallen into homelessness. Soldier On will provide a range of economic, financial, and employment services that promote housing stability and play a key role in connecting veterans and their family members to VA services such as mental health care and other benefits.
This is the fourth year SSVF grants have helped veterans and their families find or remain in their homes. The award is part of a larger announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which awarded nearly $300 million in grants that will help approximately 115,000 homeless at-risk veterans and their families.
In 2009, President Obama announced the Federal government's goal to end Veteran homelessness by 2015. The grants are intended to help accomplish that goal. According to the 2013 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, homelessness among Veterans has declined 24 percent since 2010.
Through the Eliminating Veteran Homelessness Initiative, VA committed over $1 billion in FY 2014 to strengthen programs that prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. VA provides a range of services to homeless Veterans, including health care, housing, job training, and education.