VA awards $1.16 million grant to get vets into housing — Here’s how strategies are changing – Florence, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina 2021-09-13 13:22:59 –

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (WBTW) — A $ 1.16 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs hopes to continue the success of the Myrtle Beach program, which has helped more than 100 people find permanent homes. is.

Grant Per Diem funds will be used to ensure stability, improve skill levels and create personalized temporary housing units. This is fairly new in the Myrtle Beach area, but it has been a huge win in reducing and preventing people’s loss of housing.

Change of thinking

Financing self-sufficiency programs is an important way local agencies have been working on the homeless in the last few years.

Breakley Roof, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Holly County, said: “You can’t expect them to read a book, do math, or start a new job, just as they would if they were taken to work or if their kids went to school.”

United Way in the region is funding the reconstruction program of New Direction, a homeless shelter in Holly County. Nonprofits also fund two mental health institutions that provide counseling to uninsured persons and other organizations that support rent and utility bill support.

People who do not have a home generally go out on the street because of mental illness, drug addiction, or a combination of both.

People who don’t have a home may not automatically know how to work, pay invoices, or create a resume, Roof said. Some people do not have an ID card. As a result, finding a job or residence or opening a bank account can be nearly impossible.

“There is hope that when they are prepared to succeed, they will not come back and return to the situation again,” Roof said.

She said shelters still needed emergency beds, but self-sufficiency programs are a more effective long-term solution.

This includes explaining that the invoice is due, but Roof says that some people don’t understand it because it expects the invoice to be powered off. According to her, financial education is also a big part of the problem.

“People don’t legally know how to pay invoices,” she said. “They don’t understand. They weren’t taught at school. Their parents don’t know.”

She said that if the average wage at Myrtle Beach is $ 10.77 per hour and the average cost of an apartment exceeds $ 900 per month, it can even be difficult to find a home. It’s easy to be homeless or work far away, so getting there and paying for childcare is out of reach.

“We can’t find a place to rent where we are now,” Roof said. “There are literally not enough homes, not long enough, not to mention affordable homes.”

Women trying to escape the situation of domestic violence have to essentially start over and learn skills that the abuser may have controlled.

Another piece is to unravel the misconceptions surrounding people who do not have housing.

“They see in their minds that homeless people are the ones who want to be homeless and want to take medicine all day long,” Roof said. “Some people want to be homeless, but that’s a very small percentage.”

The United Way of Holly County typically reviews funding applications a year in advance. However, due to a pandemic and expected decline in earnings, the process is not open as usual. Instead, it funds basic needs and services, including shelter, food, health and childcare services.

A new process that may emerge in 2023 needs to state how organizations measure results. Roof said United Way would help analyze which interventions are most effective.

Myrtle Beach has become a veteran hotspot

Of the 34,695 people living in the city limits of Myrtle Beach, 2,396 are veterans, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

According to Meg Boy, director of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Interim Housing Program, the number continues to grow as veterans consider it a good place to live in Carolina. It is arriving veterans from all over the country — and creating a need for more services to help them.

“We are definitely fighting that number in our particular area,” Boyle said.

The $ 1.16 million grant comes from Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Medical System and will be sent to the Eastern Carolina Homeless Organization, also known as ECHO, starting next month.

The funds will be used to fund the ECHO service, which provides individual housing units to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The funds will also be used to provide case manager positions, subsidize veterans with special needs, and continue self-sufficiency programs.

Boyer said it wasn’t a new approach for the agency, confirming that the number of homeless veterans across the country had halved in the last decade. But it’s new to the Myrtle Beach area.

The local temporary housing program started three years ago.

“We knew that the need was greater,” Boyle said.

This grant works to help veterans secure income, receive medical care, and build support systems. The goal is to get veterans into permanent housing within 90 days.

In the current setup, there are two veterans in the bedroom sharing the bathroom. It is predicted to be transformed into individual units, not only increasing the safety of the virus, but also increasing the morale of veterans.

“It makes them feel like humans again, I was told,” Boyle said.

Veterans work individually with case managers to plan and learn skills they may have lost on the street. This includes knowing how to wash.

The Myrtle Beach program has seen promising numbers. According to Boyle, the Myrtle Beach facility was in the 93rd percentile of veterans’ success in fiscal 2020, performing 93% better than other facilities.

The number of veterans receiving support is also increasing. Seventy-three veterans found permanent housing during the 2020 fiscal year. By the end of the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, it had already reached 107.

According to the organization’s director, Joey Smoke, about 85% of ECHO supporters receiving grants live in Holly County. ECHO covers 13 counties in South Carolina and 3 counties in North Carolina.

According to Smoke, the number includes a large number of veterans in Holly County.

Mr Smoke said the grant will affect 20 beds. We plan to create eight more residential units in the building across the street.

ECHO has accommodated more than 2,500 people since October 2020.

“It’s a tremendous amount of people,” he said.

He said veterans lost their homes for the same reasons as other homeless populations, usually associated with substance abuse disorders and untreated mental illness. However, landlords usually tend to offer rents to veterans, and the community tends to get more involved and donate to veterans, which he appreciates.

More than a bed

Homeless shelter New Directions has changed its mindset in the last few years. Previously, the emphasis was on providing beds and meals.

“That was our purpose when we were founded eight years ago,” said Shelter Secretary-General Kathy Jenkins. “We needed to find a better way, not just to allow people to stay homeless.”

From there, we shifted our approach, built a case management team, and started a partnership in the community.

Now, when someone comes in, new directions help them set long-term goals. It is either a permanent residence, a recovery, or a reunion with a family member. Evacuation shelter staff also investigate why individuals do not have permanent housing and the barriers they need to overcome.

“It’s about changing the way we think about things, ourselves, our goals, and the causes of this situation in the first place,” Jenkins said.

This includes igniting hope, obtaining proper identification, connecting with educational programs, counseling, and supporting addiction. The shelter was funded by the city and brought in three peer support specialists who were addicts who lost their homes at some point in their lives.

They are successful with their new strategy. Approximately 45% of the 1,200 people who use shelters each year can find positive and permanent housing solutions.

It also saves millions of dollars annually in the system. According to Jenkins, it costs $ 15 a day for someone to stay in a shelter and get service. Living on the street is estimated at $ 55,000, and NewDirections’ $ 1.4 million budget will ultimately save $ 16 million annually.

The shelter is still dedicated to providing those first beds. 90-bed men’s shelter, Expanded to include 74 more, Maximum amount that can be placed on the second floor.

VA awards $1.16 million grant to get vets into housing — Here’s how strategies are changing Source link VA awards $1.16 million grant to get vets into housing — Here’s how strategies are changing

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