By RAYMOND L. SMITH
WARREN - A $960,000 grant awarded to Family and Community Services by the Department of Veteran Affairs last month will be used to provide market-rate housing assistance for homeless veterans.
Trumbull's grant was one of 38 projects in 25 states approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thirty-one of the projects deal with providing transitional housing to homeless veterans.
The local program is expected to be operational in late December to early January.
The goal is to end homelessness among veterans across the United States by 2015.
The grants are being awarded through the Veterans Administration's Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program's Transition in Place program.
Transition in Place is a program being developed to provide housing help and counseling for veterans who have found themselves without a place to live.
"We are looking to get homeless veterans into privately owned apartments and homes," Matthew Slater, director of veterans services for the Family and Community Services Inc. in Ravenna, said.
"Veterans are to obtain a lease, which initially will be paid for through the program, but are to 'transition in place' or live independently within a year.''
Ideally, the veterans can be independent within three to nine months.
Qualified veterans not only will be placed in housing, but also will receive whatever counseling that may be needed for them to maintain the housing after completing the program. Counseling may consist of a combination of behavioral, vocational, financial and credit training.
The program is working with Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority to provide housing for the veterans whose income may not allow them afford market rate homes.
It also is working with the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, which will be providing $25,000 for case management.
Don Emerson, director of Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority, said the program just expands an existing policy.
"As the housing authority, we always give a preference to veterans as it is and that was before the Transition in Place program began. We'll be one of the potential sites for individuals for the housing they need," Emerson said. "Again, it is easy for us to get on board with this because we always try to meet the needs of veterans anyway.
Emerson explained the mid and high-rise buildings would be the most likely candidates in housing the veterans.
"For the most part, we will give them a full range of housing options, but some of the criteria does seem to fit most with our mid to high-rises when it comes to sprinkler systems and other specifications," he said. "We will be one of numerous options veterans will have under this program."
April Caraway, director of Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said the agency is providing funds to help pay for a part-time person who will set up appointments for veteran to get them services.
"We have a lot of veterans returning home from overseas assignments with post traumatic stress syndrome, depression and other conditions that are unable to adjust to living at home," Caraway said. "They are going in and out of hospitals and are experiencing homelessness."
Caraway expects this program to be a bridge for these veterans.
Slater said, "We do not want to place veterans in apartments only to have them lose them once they no longer are in the program. We do not want them to be overwhelmed. We want to provide the skills needed for them to maintain housing on their own."
As clients become independent, the program will find housing for other veterans in need of housing.
The three year program will be able to pay the lease of up to 20 apartments at a time. Once a veteran graduates from the program, a new one will be replace him.
Property owners that are interested in participating in the program must meet all of the requirements of the veterans in local housing and Veteran Affairs codes, including having sprinkler systems in the the residences.
Veterans will be referred to the program by Veteran Affairs, the Veteran Service Commission, local police department, neighborhood watch groups and local continuous care programs.
"This is the first time a program like this is being done by Veterans Affairs in Trumbull county," Slater said. "HUD (Housing and Urban Development) has a similar program.''