City kicks off homeless vets initiative
Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal 12:17 p.m. EST January 13, 2015
Recovering drug addict Kyle O'Hair, 34, poses next to the flag at the Interlink Veterans shelter. O'Hair served in the military and was in Iraq for 22 months but became homeless after returning home.(Photo: Matt Herp, Special to the C-J)
Louisville's push to house all its homeless veterans officially kicked off Tuesday, with Mayor Greg Fischer and The Coalition for the Homeless launching its "Rx: Housing Veterans" initiative.
Using a mix of permanent supportive housing, short-term subsidies and grants for apartment deposits — along with supports such as counseling, treatment and employment aid — officials are hoping to house 360 homeless veterans by the end of the year.
"We firmly believe that no one who wore our country's uniform should have to live or die on the streets of Louisville," Natalie Harris, director of the coalition, said in a statement.
Fischer signed a pledge last year as part of a national effort to to end veteran homelessness by 2016 and created an action committee led by the coalition.
The VA Hospital's homeless program and Louisville Metro Housing Authority have obtained more than 400 federal housing vouchers, according to the city. While vets wait for processing on the vouchers, shelters such as Interlink Counseling Services and St. Vincent de Paul will provide transitional housing.
Other help includes substance abuse and debt management counseling from Volunteers of America and legal help from the Legal Aid Society. Employers are being asked to hire vets, and the coalition is asking for donations for security deposits and household items, including furniture.
Experts say housing the homeless can be cheaper than taxpayer-funded costs that the homeless incur at hospitals, jails, shelters and courts. That's made it an increasingly prevalent strategy for tackling homelessness nationwide, including in Louisville.
Fischer in a statement said the effort does not "discount the other men, women and children who face homelessness in our community. We will continue to focus on helping them in the coming year with our ultimate goal to house every homeless person who wants housing."
Reach Chris Kenning at (502) 582-4697. Follow him on Twitter at ckenning_cj.
Monetary donations to Louisville's homeless veterans initiative can be sent to the Louisville Community Foundation, 325 West Main Street #1110, Louisville, KY 40202, (502) 585-4649. For questions or to get involved in other ways, contact The Coalition for the Homeless at (502) 636-9550.