MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 31, 2012

Veteran housing vouchers approved

City authority one of three in state chosen to receive them

— Muskogee’s Gospel Rescue Mission serves at least one homeless veteran every day, said Director Jack Murr.

“But we are blessed because we have the homeless veteran representatives from Veteran Affairs that come in and work with our guys every week,” Murr said. “They really take care of them.”

And a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the Muskogee Housing Authority will receive 25 more vouchers for permanent homes for homeless veterans is another blessing, Murr said.

“We’re never without at least one veteran here,” he said. “In fact, I’d say an average of one-fourth of our clients are veterans. I absolutely think this is good news.”

HUD and Veteran Affairs announced more than $380,000 in vouchers for homeless veterans will be given to three public housing authorities in the state.

The Muskogee Housing Authority received more than $92,000 to add 25 more vouchers to the 35 it already had — bringing the total number of available vouchers in the state to 345. Tulsa received an additional 25 and Oklahoma City an additional 40.

Muskogee Housing Authority Director J.D. Foster said the vouchers are part of the Section 8 program, but all 60 are earmarked for only veterans. Foster said a VA representative will begin working more closely with the housing authority to make it simpler for veterans to apply for the vouchers.

Melanie Goldman, homeless coordinator at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center, said there are plenty of vouchers available in Muskogee for homeless veterans.

“We’re actually getting a lot of referrals right now, but right now we have about 10 to 12 veterans in the Muskogee area using these vouchers,” she said.

Homeless veterans or their representatives can call a national hotline to inquire about assistance available, or the Muskogee Housing Authority to inquire about homeless veterans’ housing vouchers.

The Veterans Crisis Line, (800) 273-8255, connects veterans, their families and friends with responders through a toll-free hotline. Online chat is also available by sending a text message to 838255. All services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the VA media release.

The recent grants are part of $72.6 million appropriated nationally for all 50 states and the District of Columbia for Fiscal Year 2012 to support the housing needs of more than 10,000 homeless veterans.

This is the first of two rounds of the 2012 HUD-VA Supportive Housing funding. HUD expects to announce the remaining funding by the end of this summer.

“It’s a national disgrace that one out of every six men and women in our shelters once wore a uniform to serve our country,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, in the media release. “But we know that by providing housing assistance and case management services, we can significantly reduce the number of veterans living on our streets. Working together, HUD, VA and local housing agencies are making real progress toward ending veteran homelessness once and for all.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

The Veterans Crisis Line, (800) 273-8255, connects veterans, their families and friends with responders through a toll-free hotline. Online chat is also available by sending a text message to 838255. All services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Source: http://www.veteranscrisisline.net.

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