August 19, 2015

GI Go Director Jack Fanous Joins HUD, VA, NJ Mayors, and Non-Profits Advocates in Comprehensive Meeting to End Veteran Homelessness in New Jersey

The day-long session highlighted resources and best practices to assist in reaching the goal of ending veteran homelessness in 2015; HUD, VA officials, New Jersey mayors, advocates and non-profits work to end veteran homelessness in 2015.

Participants in the Mayors Challenge convening day-long event gather for a group photo. HUD, VA officials, New Jersey mayors, advocates and non-profits work to end veteran homelessness in 2015.

LYONS, NJ—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) New Jersey Field Office hosted a day of informational panels geared towards highlighting resources available to the New Jersey mayors and elected officials that committed to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. The event took place at the Lyons NJ VA Medical Center on August 18.

The Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness is a White House initiative that aims to eliminate homelessness in the country by the end of this year.

It asks U.S. mayors to commit to the Mayors Challenge and use available resources such as HUD-VASH housing vouchers; and work with local Continuums of Care, non-profits, and advocates to find permanent housing for these veterans in need.

The day-long session featured remarks from GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous, whose organization has been making progress with HUD and the VA for years to bring an end to veteran homelessness.

“I am so proud of everyone here today,” said Fanous. “We are all here because we are committed to getting the veterans who fought to defend our streets are not living on them. We all have worked together to get homeless veterans into housing, and I know that we all are dedicated to continuing this effort. We have had some great success stories of veterans finding housing, and I know that we will have many more soon to come.”

One of the highlights of the event were the testimonies of two previously homeless veterans that were able to access HUD-VASH housing vouchers, that come with supportive services such as counseling and medicals services. Homeless veterans that qualify apply at the Lyons Campus of the VA Medical Center.

Between the 2010 rollout of Opening Doors – the first-ever federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness – and the January 2014 point-in-time homeless count, homelessness among veterans nationwide has been slashed by 33 percent.

Since 2008, more than 79,000 HUD-VASH vouchers have been awarded nationwide; over 1000 in New Jersey. Approximately 90,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. have been served through the HUD-VASH program. Rental assistance and supportive services provided through HUD-VASH are a critical resource for local communities in ending homelessness among our nation's Veterans.

In the HUD-VASH program, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to local housing agencies for these vouchers. Decisions are based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff offers.

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.