FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY NICHOLSON ANNOUNCE HISTORIC AGREEMENT TO END HOMELESSNESS FOR CITY VETERANS
City Will Offer 100 Veterans Permanent Housing in 100 Days
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Jim Nicholson, and Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Robert V. Hess today announced an historic agreement between the City of New York and the VA to help end veteran homelessness in the City. Under the agreement, the City will place 100 veterans into permanent housing in 100 days. Veterans Affairs and the City will also convene a Task Force that will report back in 100 days with a strategic plan to end veteran homelessness in New York City. The Task Force, whose inaugural meeting was held following the announcement, will develop long-term plans for new joint VA-New York City street outreach teams, a new joint VA-New York City homeless intake center, and additional health care, mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment for eligible veterans. The announcement was made at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence in Queens, the first veterans-only shelter established in the United States.
"No veteran should be sleeping on the streets or in shelters in New York City," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Our City and our country owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans, and those who have had the misfortune to become homeless deserve our help to get back on their feet. I hope our new partnership with Veterans Affairs will become a national model."
"This agreement represents another positive step forward in our fight to eradicate the scourge of veteran homelessness from our streets," said Secretary Nicholson. "Our veterans have served us all by taking the oath to preserve liberty and protect our way of life, and we must and will continue to work together to repay our grateful nation's debt to these valiant defenders. I appreciate Mayor Bloomberg's leadership in combating veteran homelessness, and we at VA look forward to working with the City of New York on this initiative and others that serve America's veterans."
"No one who has served and fought for our country should have to live on the streets," said Commissioner Hess. "With the VA's help and support along with its valuable resources, we can make sure that doesn't happen in New York City. That's why we're making 100 permanent housing slots immediately available for our veterans."
"Housing 100 homeless veterans in 100 days is a great step toward the City's goal of ending veteran homelessness," said Office of Veteran Affairs' Executive Director Clarice Joynes. "I commend Mayor Bloomberg, Secretary Nicholson, and Commissioner Hess for their bold commitment. We are all grateful for the sacrifices made by our veterans in service to our City and our country, and we are committed to assisting those who have fallen on hard times."
Over the next 100 days, DHS will move 100 veterans into permanent housing. The City will fund the placements by reinvesting resources currently devoted to the emergency shelter system. The veterans will be moved to supportive housing or other options using the existing DHS placement system. Some of the veterans will enter housing with appropriate supportive services while others will be reunited with family members. Veterans will be selected from within the existing men's emergency shelter system, including residents of the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence and the Camp LaGuardia shelter in Orange County that is currently closing.
During the same 100 day period, a joint City-VA Task Force will develop permanent strategies for housing the remaining homeless veterans in New York City. The Task Force will include community agencies and Veterans Service Organizations with expertise in serving homeless veterans. The Task Force will develop the protocols and standards for new joint outreach teams and the new homeless intake center that will be for the exclusive use of veterans. The outreach teams will, for the first time ever, include VA staff that can assist with the issues unique to veterans. The VA has also committed to provide additional health care, mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment for eligible veterans in permanent and supportive housing.
The members of the Task Force are:
New York City has embarked on a Five Year Plan to reduce homelessness by two-thirds by 2009. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan Uniting for Solutions Beyond Shelter, the public, nonprofit and business sectors have come together in a coordinated campaign to address homelessness in New York City. Through initiatives such as community based prevention and an increase in supportive housing, this 5-year action plan aims to decrease the number of individuals living on city streets and in shelters by two-thirds by 2009.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is the nation's single largest health care provider. VA provides health care services to more than 100,000 homeless veterans each year. VA's efforts working with cities and non-profit and faith-based service providers has led to a 20 percent reduction of homelessness among veterans across the nation in the last five years.
Stu Loeser/Jason Post (212) 788-2958
Tanya Valle-Batista (Homeless Services)
Matt Burns (VA) (202) 258-1400
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