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VA gives $1.9M to help homeless veterans

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3 N.M. organizations will receive money for various programs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded three New Mexico organizations more than $1.9 million to help end homelessness among low-income veterans and their families.

Goodwill Industries of New Mexico will receive $1,085,481 for its programs, which range from case management and referrals to temporary financial assistance that can include rent payments, utilities, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, transportation, child care and emergency supplies.

“Without this money, 630 veteran families would become or remain homeless,” Terry Armstrong, case management director for Goodwill, said Friday. “We’re honored to have received this grant for the third year, and to be able to help to restore dignity and self-respect to those who have served our country.”

Armstrong said the program serves families in 26 of the state’s 33 counties for two years.

The New Mexico Veterans Integration Center, a program of the state Department of Veterans’ Services, will receive $779,242 to serve about 583 veteran households in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance, Valencia, McKinley, San Juan, Santa Fe and Guadalupe counties.

Mesilla Valley Community of Hope will receive $114,369 to serve about 100 veteran households in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County.

“With these grants, we are strengthening our partnership with community nonprofits across the country to provide veterans and their families with hope, a home and a future,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said in a news release. The grants come through the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, which Shinseki says has helped “prevent and end homelessness among tens of thousands of homeless veterans and their families … .”

In 2009, Shinseki announced an ambitious plan to eliminate homelessness among veterans – then estimated at 131,000 nationwide – by 2015.

Given the transitory nature of being homeless, it’s difficult to estimate how many homeless veterans there are on any given night. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that figure at 62,619 nationwide.

Local VA officials estimate there are 460 homeless veterans living on Albuquerque’s streets.

According to the HUD’s 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, homelessness among veterans has declined 17.2 percent since 2009.

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