Back in 2010, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki charged us all to become personally committed to ending Veteran homelessness by 2015. The plan is considered ambitious for sure, but Jesse Brown VA Medical Center is not deterred.
“The solution rests in our attempt to make the goal a reality,” says Candice Bodie, director of the homeless program.
Just recently, the facility relocated its Homeless Veterans Outreach Program, and established a Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC). The collaborative center, supported by federal agencies and community organizations, is the first of its kind in the Chicago area. Subsequently, the medical center invites Veterans and other interested persons to the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The CRRC will not only provide safe and secure transitional housing, but will offer comprehensive services in one location to include health care, employment, benefits, and education. Employees, for example, who specialize in HUD-VASH housing vouchers, Veteran benefits, vocational rehabilitation as well as mental health, will be based there.
Established in January 1994, Jesse Brown’s Homeless Veterans Program has grown from a staff of two to approximately 60. The facility understands that to end Veteran homelessness, outreach and case management support are essential.
Jesse Brown VA Medical Center placed approximately 500 formerly homeless Veterans and their families into permanent housing in 2012. A national report shows that homelessness among Veterans has been reduced by 12 percent between January 2010 and January 2011. The 12 percent decline keeps VA on track to end Veteran homelessness by 2015.