Three Alabama mayors are teaming up with First Lady Michelle Obama, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure that homeless veterans can find the shelter they need.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, Birmingham Mayor William Bell and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle have committed to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. They are among 75 mayors across the country to accept the challenge.
"By working together to combine federal and local resources and use best practices to create a local strategy, we can end veteran homelessness in our region and across the country. I want to thank all the Mayors who have already signed up for the challenge and encourage more to do so," said Shaun Donovan, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"We know here in Tuscaloosa County, we have a number of homeless who are veterans who have served our country, who've made so many sacrifices for our freedom," Maddox said. "Yet when they return there's no opportunities awaiting them. In some cases, we see it end up in homelessness."
We're told this new initiative is designed to use a housing first approach which officials say will remove barriers to help vets receive permanent housing. The mayors are hoping to leverage housing and services resources that can help veterans who are not qualified for some of the VA's programs to get them into stable housing.
Also the plan includes increasing early detection and access to preventive services for at-risk veterans.
Maddox says when veterans return home, they should be on the front lines of receiving jobs and homes. He's hoping this new challenge will do just that.
"These men and women have served our country. They've served it with honor and dignity and we owe it to them to do everything within our power to make sure that we address these issues that they're facing when they come back home," Maddox said.
Are you interested in helping? Click here for ways to take action and end veteran homelessness.
Are you a veteran or know one who needs help? Click here for resources from Joining Forces.
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