On Veterans Day, A Look At New Orleans' Effort To House Homeless Veterans
In January, New Orleans became the first major city to house all its homeless veterans, in response to First Lady Michelle Obama's challenge to mayors. We check in on the initiative to end veteran homelessness.
To be clear, New Orleans has the capacity to house all its homeless veterans. That doesn't mean they're all off the streets.
Melissa Haley is director of supportive services at Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans - one of the groups that came together to tackle homelessness.
"Homelessness is a continuous process," Haley says. "So a veteran could be housed today and may not be housed tomorrow because of some circumstances - loss of job, eviction. What we have is a system in place to identify those veterans, and we have the resources in place to assist them with locating housing, to get placed in the housing, and to pay those things that would definitely stop them from getting housed like security deposits, rent, utility deposits."
That process now takes just two weeks, at most. Key players - the VA, nonprofits, housing authorities - all work together. Haley says federal support is critical, too.
"This was an Obama initiative," she says. "Ending veteran homelessness was something that he was very committed to nationally, and we hope the next president will also see the value."
Last month Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans got a three-year, $2 million grant from the Veterans Administration.