Homeless veterans grant to aid up to 30 area families

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

FOR INFORMATION

• Call Transition Projects at 503-280-4700 or click here (the “If You Need Help” link includes veterans services).

A new federal grant to serve homeless veterans will benefit 25 to 30 Vancouver-area families.

Earlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded a $3 million grant to 15 counties in Oregon and Southwest Washington, including Clark County.

A Portland agency, Transition Projects, will administer a $426,683 portion of that grant in Clark County, as well as Clackamas and Washington counties in Oregon.

The grant is part of the VA's Supportive Services for Veteran Families program; it assists very-low-income veterans with families living in or transitioning to permanent housing, according to a news release from the Portland VA Medical Center.

After an earlier grant was awarded in October, "We were stunned by the requests for services," said Tony Bernal, development director for Transition Projects, a private nonprofit agency. "We're Portland-based, but we got requests from across the region and the state.

"A second opportunity came up," Bernal said, enabling the agency to extend its services to veterans with families.

Those services include helping them "get into housing, or stay in," he said. "For example, there's rent assistance as well as eviction prevention — when they're about to lose their home and maybe we give them some assistance."

The program also can provide security deposits, pay utility bills and provide clothing suitable for a job.

Other support can include employment assistance and accessing VA benefits.

There are a lot of reasons why a veteran can wind up without a place to call home, Bernal said. Post-traumatic stress disorder can be a factor.

"Traumatic brain injury is another big one," Bernal said, while addictions or mental-health issues can play a role.

"Sometimes, it's just the economy," Bernal said.

Does he — or she — return to a job?

"We're seeing more female veterans these days," Bernal noted.

"Often, one reason will feed into another. Our level of support will vary drastically, depending on the veteran."

The grant money will start arriving in October, Bernal said.

This is the program's third year. Last year, the VA provided about $100 million to assist approximately 50,000 veterans and their family members, according to the news release.