Human Services Council will offer aid to veterans

Agency joins others to help eligible people with urgent needs

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

Did you know?

• Clark County has 1,894 veterans who are living below the federal poverty level, which is defined as income of less than $11,170 a year.

The nonprofit Human Services Council has taken on a new role in aiding local veterans, and it will bring $350,000 in grant money to the effort.

Under a contract with Clark County Community Services, the council will administer the county's fund for veterans assistance and emergency relief.

The Vancouver-based Human Services Council will work with another nonprofit — the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center — as well as county agencies.

Eligible veterans can receive assistance for a range of urgent needs that include rent, utility payments, food, transportation, and assistance in obtaining items needed for employment.

The fund was created by the state Legislature, said Pete Munroe, the county's manager of housing and community development.

"A small amount of property tax goes to the veterans relief fund," Munroe said. In 2012, that funding — about one penny per $1,000 of assessed valuation — brought in $360,243 through November.

Eligible veterans must be honorably discharged and live in Washington. Their annual income must be less than $16,755 for a one-person household.

The Human Services Council will operate the program from the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center's office, 1305 Columbia St. The phone number is 360-735-5711.

Center for Community Health

There also will be a part-time staffer — eight hours a week — at the Center for Community Health, 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.

"We had been working with the veterans center around transportation needs for the veterans they serve," said Colleen Kuhn, the council's executive director.

Program volunteers will act as advocates for veterans and coordinate with community organizations, veterans' services and government agencies to develop personalized plans. The council will hire honorably discharged veterans to administer the program.

The Human Services Council also has received grants totaling $353,003 to support transportation services in Southwest Washington. It includes computer and communication upgrades to increase route efficiency.

Some of the grant money will be used to hold community meetings to discuss the transportation needs of veterans and military families, Kuhn said.