Louisville Launches Homeless Veterans Initiative

The city of Louisville, Kentucky’s movement to provide housing for all of its homeless veterans officially began on Tuesday, with Mayor Greg Fischer and The Coalition for the Homeless kicking off its “Rx: Housing Veterans” initiative.

By combining permanent supportive housing, short-term subsidies, and grants for apartment security deposits — as well as additional support such as counseling, treatment, and employment aid — city officials are driven to house 360 homeless veterans by the end of this 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.

As part of a national effort to put an end to veteran homelessness by 2016, Fischer signed a pledge last year in addition to creating an action committee led by the coalition.

The VA Hospital’s homeless program and Louisville Metro Housing Authority have received over 400 vouchers for federal housing, according to the city. Shelters such as Interlink Counseling Services and St. Vincent de Paul will provide traditional housing while homeless veterans wait for their vouchers to be processed.

In addition to housing, support also includes substance abuse and debt management counseling from the Volunteers of America, and legal help from the Legal Aid Society. Local employers have also been asked to hire vets, and the coalition is also asking for donations for security deposits and household goods, such as furniture.

According to experts, housing homeless veterans can be less expensive compared to taxpayer-funded costs that homeless veterans are likely to incur at hospitals, jails, shelters and in the court system. This fact in and of itself has been used as a popular strategy to combat veteran homelessness nationwide, including in cities such as Louisville.

In a statement, Fischer said the effort does not in any way “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.”

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