Helping homeless Veterans does not end with housing them


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After being discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 1979, Stephen Ladeluca began making a living as an electrician near his hometown of West Warwick, Rhode Island. But in 2009, Ladeluca was injured on the job. After facing medical bills, inconsistent workers’ compensation payments and legal fees, Stephen found himself homeless, unemployed and broke.

That same year, the White House and VA announced a plan to end homelessness among Veterans. So when Ladeluca turned to the Providence VA Medical Center, the staff there was ready to help. Thanks to his VA doctors and caseworkers, Stephen was connected with extensive physical therapy, job training and safe temporary housing — all through the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program (HUD-VASH).

The program, established in 2008 as part of a partnership between VA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has helped change the national impression of Veteran homelessness. Since 2009, the number of homeless Veterans dropped nearly 50 percent — and in 2015 alone, the number decreased by 17 percent.

To date, the HUD-VASH program has awarded more than 79,000 housing vouchers and housed more than 111,000 Veterans who were experiencing homelessness.

HUD-VASH’s success starts with its Housing First model: When Veterans have a place to call home, they are better able to benefit from other supportive services they need — such as medical care, mental health support and employment services. And when Veterans are ready, those services are made immediately available to them.

Veteran homelessness can result from many different life events, such as a move to an area with more expensive housing, service-related trauma that leads to issues like substance use, or the loss of a job, as Stephen Ladeluca experienced. Ladeluca’s story shows that providing safe and stable housing is an important step in helping homeless Veterans get back on their feet — but it is just the first.

The Housing First approach brings together a multidisciplinary group of experts — including case managers, social workers, employment specialists, peer support specialists, and clinicians — at daily team meetings, or “huddles.” At these meetings, team members discuss what specific Veterans need to secure permanent housing and to stay on track in other areas of their lives so that they can remain housed.

The coordinated case management that is at the heart of the HUD-VASH program enables VA to offer a high staff-to-Veteran ratio; deliver supportive services to Veterans where they live; visit or otherwise communicate with Veterans multiple times a week, if needed; and improve Veterans’ ability to manage their physical and mental health as well as their overall well-being.

The video above, which features VA staff members as actors, shows the holistic approach to ending homelessness in action. Team members organize the logistics of delivering services to Veterans who are in their programs and identify the types of services needed. Using this model, teams can accelerate Veterans’ connections to permanent housing, health care, employment, and other support systems — to ultimately prevent them from slipping back into homelessness. (Watch the video on YouTube.)

Through the years, HUD-VASH has evolved to help Veterans like Ladeluca find and stay in permanent housing. In 2008, the program was expanded to connect public housing authorities in communities across the country with local medical centers so that they can work together to end Veteran homelessness.

Today, Stephen Ladeluca has a permanent, part-time position in education and nursing administration at the Providence VA Medical Center and lives in a nearby apartment. He is searching for a full-time position so that he can afford his rent unassisted and free up his HUD-VASH slot for another Veteran who needs it.

More Information

  • Visit the VAntage Point blog to learn more about Stephen Ladeluca’s personal story of recovery.
  • Visit VA’s website to learn about employment initiatives and other programs for Veterans exiting homelessness.
  • Refer Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless to their local VA medical center, where VA staff is ready to assist, or urge them to call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).

image of Juliana Walker Juliana Walker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has 17 years of experience working with chronically homeless populations and those diagnosed with a mental illness. Walker was the clinical director for a number of Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) /Housing First teams in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She also served as the national director of training for Pathways to Housing, Inc., for over five years, assisting in the development of the Housing First model. Walker is currently the coordinator for the Amarillo VA Health Care System’s Housing First program, in Amarillo, Texas. The Amarillo VA’s Housing First program provides services for more than 240 Veterans and has achieved a 100 percent HUD-VASH voucher utilization rate, with 98 percent of the Veterans they have served housed. The Amarillo program uses a shared caseload model of service and has mirrored the organization of their team after a Housing First Assertive Community Treatment team.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

-- VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you'd like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Darrel Christman    

    I’m in a va home less program. Every one has worked so hard to help me help myself. I can’t thank them enough. I was on the brink of suicide, however I reached out and got help and resources. I have come so far in 6 months, its just amazing! Thank you to the va team and st.Patrick’s center in st. Louis. If you need any help, just ask for it. GOD bless you ALL!

  2. John Petrichella    

    Good steps in the right direction, however besides mental healthcare, housing and job training, until they are on their feet again, they will need an income. At one time, the old “Veterans Administration” would provide an income rather than allowing a veteran to be destitute. I’m not sure if that provision is still available for destitute Vets.

    1. John Petrichella    

      I might add, the income provided to a destitute veterans by the Veteran administration was a non-service connected income and did not require a service connected disability. I worked for the Veterans Administration during the 1980’s and was aware of this provision which was not widely known to veterans.

  3. Peter Dawber    

    To Whom it may concern, The Veteran’s Association doesn’t care, refuses to help Many Veteran’s and their Families. My family and I went to the VA Hospital here in Louisville, Kentucky, because we were HOMELESS. We have a little girl 13 yrs.old. And we LIVE IN A SMALL CAR. SHAME on the V.A. It’s nothing less than DISCUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Lam Ray Yarbrough Jr.    

    I served from 87′-88′, and left with an honorable discharge/DD214. The VA where I am at, apparently from Obama ruling, states that I am not even a veteran, because I did not serve for 24 months so am entitled to nothing. I am currently in the middle of a disability case and waiting. How can anyone do anything for me?

  5. Daniel S Kelley    

    I am one of the lucky veterans of the local VAMC (Battle Creek). I am 100% disabled and was homeless. The Housing Counselor discussed several options and decided on the one that fit me best. I now live at Silver Star Apartments which is piggybacked to BCVAMC.

    My biggest request is to live on my own. The best surprise was the veterans, my neighbors, help me with things I can not do because of my disabilities.

    I am blessed for this but know I have brothers and sisters out there who are having very bad times. They are in my prayers and hope they find a blessing like I have.

  6. Bradley so. finch    

    This is all. Bs in Bakersfield CA I have been homeless for ten yrs I have ptsd due to mst. I am male and I was denied any compensation and my claim was denied even though I had evidence witnessess and other factors, Bakersfield, teams up with flood a christian based program, and I am and follow my native American heritage, I was honorably discharged, even though I was found to have drugs and excessive alcohol in my locker. I have been to the so called program they have in Bakersfield and get put off can’t live in

    transition housing due to drug use, I also have lupus and hep c.bakersfield needs the VA to look into the way they handle things. And their program needs to be seperated from this flood program. Any legal help would be appreciated.

  7. Esteban Zubia    

    I’m a disabled veteran with 80%. I’m looking for assistance in repairing my home which is in dire of entiror and extiror need. I’m in el paso, texas.

  8. Richard Thompson    

    I totally agree with housing first and then everything else falls into place. My personal experience has been a tough one since arriving in Florida from Kentucky. I am disabled and recently turned down by SS for disability. I have been living in a trailer since October. Thank God it’s Florida! Still has its cold nights though! I have a place that is available to move into and have been putting my own blood and sweat into to get out of this position I’m in. There are no apartments available in the small town I live in so this house was available through a friend of my daughter and began work renovating it . Rent will be low 600.00 for 3br2bth. It has been so hard for me to get deposit together. The VA came through for me just today and approved my disability. So now my mental anguish is lowered and I know I can be healthy. My only concern is why so hard for a deposit to be determined?

  9. John Fleming    

    I was previously qualified for HUD/VASH in 2012-13. I was determined to have been overpaid. This was because I did not understand the requirements for the program. The WPB VA lady in charge of my file told me we had a meeting on Friday with the HUD lady for one meeting,the only meeting I would have to plea my case.The WPB lady showed up on Thursday, because she had told me wrong. My HUD/VASH was cancelled.

    I am living in extremely substandard housing now. I need help and can find none.

  10. Jai Thompson    

    Can someone explain to me these VA guidelines. VA always says one thing but the people they give our federal funding grants to take care of us VETS. I.e US VETS. in Las Vegas. I don’t qualify for Hud-Vash nor SFVF or any other long term program. I can’t use the funding to pick a decent home. I am stuck in low end places when the other people gets a better choice. This is so fustrating. I want to go to Veterans Village more services and they care. VA please approve this.

    Jai Thompson
    USN Veteran (97-01)

  11. Jai Thompson    

    This is so unfair VA please make it an even playing field. US Vets is giving us a bad name. The guidelines should be the same across the board. But you are not hear us poor vets are forced to suffer.

  12. Raymond M Renfro    

    I was in the USArmy from 1977-1986. I have no retirement, 401 K or pension. I am down to my last 5,000.00 dollars before any monthly bills are paid. I am SCARED and I don’t know where to turn. I have no family that can help and they all in Maryland. I really am scared

  13. Paula Jane Crosbie (Herring in military)    

    My daughter and I were homeless so to speak but thanks to Front Line Services we won’t be. I have 6 yrs Air Force, 4 yrs army. Unfortunately I came out in 1989 so I don’t qualify for full benefits. frontline are paying first, last, and security deposit and also a few months rent. I would never be able to afford all that myself. They are also getting us the necessary furniture. Unfortunately after that we are on our own. I am on disability, not service related so I think the 620 a month for rent I can do and then my car payment.
    My question is, this place takes gas and electric do you know anywhere I can turn to get help with utilities. I don’t want to break my daughters heart and end up loosing our home.

    Thank you

  14. Deborah Exum Kendrick    

    I was a homeless veteran.After losing a job wanted help. But seems I have to get what I need on my own. Finally gain a job I wanted for awhile . I save money obtain an apartment I can afford not luxurious.I don’t even have furniture but got a bed. My friends are going to help with that . I ask help from agency to help homeless.T hey will help after making appointment see if you fit the need.. I was even in Athena house few years ago..Bouncing from friends couch to another helping their bills. I had a car for eight years putting almost 300,000 miles on it Now it finally too many mechanical issues to fix .So I walk five miles to work then back if don’t find a ride. But I am making it there and back cause just have me

  15. Andrew l. Powers    

    Your video clip was very moving, i think the team approach is an excellent concept that has beenimplemented to assist a veteran from a holistic approach.

  16. Judy Hilburn    

    I have been in the Hud-Vash program through the Fayetteville,NC VA for the last five years. I am disabled. My VA rep has been such a great help to me. She steered me in the right direction to get the assistance I needed. I had the opportunity to be in on the ground floor when Jubilee House was established for homeless female veterans, one of the first of It’s kind. What an amazing experience! After all this time they still check up on me regularly. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Thanks so much.

  17. Kim    

    We can help if they didn’t look at are credit scores or eviction’s. I am a homeless Vet. Can you give me some feedback back on this citation. I have a voucher, I like a decent place.

  18. Kenneth PenleyTM    

    Add the treatment of rare dresses to the list of things that has been denied to veterans. I was recently diagnosed with AL Amyloidosis and denied consult to Boston U. Amyloidosis Center. . Was told VA could treat. It took VA five years to diagnose after I told them all my symptoms indicated I had Amyloidosis. They have no idea what organs are involved. This AL Amyloidosis is attributed to the agent Orange I was subjected to in Viet Nam.

  19. Jim Lindenmayer    

    As the Director of the Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program and Service Officer for the American Legion 9th District for the Department of Georgia this article is not what we see in rural counties such as ours. Our goal of our program is to find/help those veterans and their families that are homeless as well as try to keep those on the edge of homelessness off the streets. I also happen to serve on the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs Balance of State Homeless committee. This program works if you have a local VAMC nearby, we have asked for support from the VA to provide a case worker in our county and after initial agreement the VA backtracked on the program. Our County does not get any VASH vouchers and as such we have to process every single veteran, either male or female, initially for DD214 and VA claims with the GA Department of Veterans Services and then send them down to the Ft. McPherson CRCC for processing. Once they go down there to the CRCC we never see them again and we have little ability to follow up as many of them do not have any way of communication. During claims processing we have noticed that most all of the Homeless veterans do not have active claims as the VA has cancelled all actions due to their not making appointments. How are they supposed to make their appointments if they are Homeless…. As for Medical treatment from the VA it is non-existent in our county and others like us as we have no VAMC locally to work with. We rely on CHOICE programs here but since the homeless are not active with the VA they are not able to obtain CHOICE. I am not sure CHOICE is a great program anyway as we have now reported many issues with our Veterans about the operation and issues that this program has caused our Veterans that we have had to ask the State Senator and the new VA Secretary to come to our district and explain why we are having the issues we are with CHOICE. As a former Combat Arms Officer and West Point graduate I am amazed at the lack of respect and programs that are provided. Our program has stepped in to provide some level of Community support for our homeless veterans. If you do not think that rural areas have a homeless program then they need to think twice also of the last 10 homeless we have processed over the past three months six of the veterans have been over 60..

  20. William Szymanski    

    Nice to hear an enlightening story. How can I help identify homeless Vets and assist them. Any ideas for local assistance that would not involve beurocracy.
    I am a self starter, hands on with management skills. Bill

  21. Dominique Villa    

    I am dependant of a Veteran. My father was in the army for several terms and honorably discharged. He currently is a civilian worker for Department of Defense and is stationed in Germany. I am a single mother and my father provides financial assistance to aid in my living expenses for me and my son. I am currently facing eviction after getting laid off in June 2016, and my unemployment benefits are exhausted. I have reached out to all my county, public and private agencies for assistance. All agencies are out of funds or I do not meet their requirements. I reached out to my County Representative for Veterans in Adam’s County, Colorado and he just sent me back to the original agencies I found on Google. I need to find help for emergency eviction assistance for dependants of veterans asap. I have a three day demand. I live in Adam’s County, Colorado.

  22. Trela Wishon    

    Is there assistance available to help a 100% Unemployable Vet finish a remodel job he started on his house before he became too sick to finish it?

  23. Lam Ray Yarbrough Jr.    

    I see a lot of posts, but no real help from anyone on the helping homeless side. I’m just looking for some answers to my previous post. You all have moving testimonies, and as I have seen thus far no answers. I am a local here in Tampa, Fl., if there IS anyone on this sites side of the ball that can help… please contact us.

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