A federal grant of $1 million has been received by two organizations, Action Ministries and HOPE Atlanta. The money is for assisting veterans who are homeless or facing eviction. Each of the agencies “will serve 200 veterans and their families, for a total of 400 veterans served through this award,” Action Ministries said in a news release.
HOPE Atlanta’s area includes Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas and Fulton counties. Action Ministries will focus on Athens and these counties: Clarke, Barrow, Bartow, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Murray, Pickens, Polk and Whitfield. That’s 16 counties, meaning on average 25 veterans in each county will benefit from the Department of Veteran Affairs grant.
It’s appropriate that the organizations are named HOPE and Action because those are two things urgently needed by homeless veterans. Here is what the two agencies will do: “Provide low-income families with case management and direct supportive services including rental assistance, links with employment services, utilities assistance, child care costs and other housing-related expenses.”
Without doubt, a critical part of the work of HOPE and Action is informing veterans of what services are available to them and helping them obtain those services. An Action official said, “Homeless veterans often do not know about all of the benefits that are available to them.” You can imagine how tough it is for a veteran returning to America to find himself or herself without a home or with a house in foreclosure, without a job and literally not knowing where to turn for help.
The VA grant is part of a $100 million-plus program to help homeless veterans and those at risk of losing their housing. As pointed out in my previous column, the effort is making a dent in the huge problem. Yet the $1 million grant “is not a lot of money when it comes to providing homes for veterans,” said John Moeller, president and CEO of Action Ministries. “But it does get us kicked off in the right direction and it will help us to engage partners across the entire state who are interested in serving our veterans.”
No, it’s certainly not a lot of money. Spread among 400 veterans in 16 counties, it won’t go far, not nearly far enough. It’s little better than the proverbial drop in the bucket, considering that there are more than 2,000 homeless veterans in metro Atlanta alone. When and how do the others get the help they need?
“It’s unfortunate that some veterans come out of the service with very little to ‘come home’ to,” Moeller says on the Action website. “Some are actually facing a life on the streets or they are at risk of becoming homeless before the year is out.”
It should not be so. The Obama administration and Congress must do much more and do it fast. One homeless American veteran is one too many.