United Way recieves grant to help homeless vets

ATLANTA — United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Regional Commission on Homelessness announced it has been awarded a $2 million Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant.

Officials said the one-year grant will be used to help more than 300 veterans and their families in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties through the commission’s Vets Connect program.

Vets Connect uses veteran peer specialists to reach out to homeless veterans and introduce them to services and transitional housing through case management. Since July 2012, the program has found nearly 250 veterans permanent or transitional housing.

“No veteran should be homeless,” said Milton Little Jr., president of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “The SSVF grant will help us engage community partners and volunteers in our Vets Connect program to end veteran homelessness, not just manage it.”

Veterans account for more than 18 percent of the homeless population in Atlanta.

Little said more than 2.4 million Americans serving in combat since Sept. 11, 2001, and many are returning to a depressed economy and are suffering from a wide range of injuries and health issues.

He said health issues contributes directly to the increasing number of homeless among veterans and their inability to secure jobs.

Protip Biswas is vice president of the Regional Commission on Homelessness at United Way of Greater Atlanta. He said homeless vets have help they do not know to access.

“While 80 percent of homeless veterans are eligible for services through Veteran Affairs, only 32 percent are accessing them,” Biswas said. “Through Vets Connect, we focus on connecting eligible veterans with case management and housing vouchers, which is critical to decreasing the number of homeless veterans in Atlanta.”

Details about the Vets Connect program are available at www.unitedwayatlanta.org. Residents with questions can email Biswas at pbiswas@unitedwayatlanta.org.