Catholic Charities to assist veterans in finding shelter on Veterans Day
PRESCOTT – Catholic Charities Veteran Services Program Manager Michael Kpodo and his team will spend Veterans Day on the streets to ensure homeless veterans in northern Arizona find shelter.
“We believe every human being has the right to the basic need of housing,” Kpodo said in an agency news release. “Then we can work on resolving other issues, such as substance abuse and mental health issues, common obstacles for our veteran population.”
Kpodo is joined by other homeless outreach advocates at various agencies who this Veterans Day are seeking solutions to not only veteran homelessness, but individual homelessness throughout the county. Northern Arizona Veteran Affairs Health Care System and the U.S. VETS Initiative also have outreach teams that target homeless veterans, and several local non-profits, including the VA, Catholic Charities, U.S. VETS and the Coalition for Compassion and Justice, have collaborated to seek housing and shelter opportunities for the area homeless, some of whom are veterans.
A broader nonprofit collaborative has been meeting over the last year to develop specific plans to address area homelessness.
CCJ in July opened up the Safe Legal Sleep at its thrift store property on Fair Street to provide area homeless, including veterans, a safe place to sleep at night without fear of tickets for illegal camping. Come winter, Safe Legal Sleep is expected to move to an indoor location, though there is no firm date.
The Salvation Army on South Montezuma Street offers services to the homeless, and is host to the multi-agency Operation Deep Freeze effort that offers emergency shelter to the homeless during the winter months.
“We must ensure that housing stability for each veteran is reasonable and achievable,” Kpodo said in an agency news release.
The agency program works with veterans to help them find work, apply for disability and other such social services and to provide rental assistance opportunities. Through temporary rental assistance, Catholic Charities veterans’ service program is able to pay for up to 18 months of housing for veterans and their families. The Veteran Resource Center in Prescott also has a federal grant to provide similar rental assistance to qualified veterans.
In the last year, Catholic Charities’ program has served 565 individual veterans and 958 veteran household members. Eight-six percent of the veterans who leave the program do so into permanent housing, the agency release states.
Northern Arizona poses challenges to these veterans because there is a shortage of affordable housing, with veterans competing with higher-income families who landlords tend to prefer as tenants, the release states.
Catholic Charities, and other nonprofit agencies seeking to assist the homeless, are continually on the hunt for partnering property owners and management groups to reduce the number of days that a veteran remains homeless once entered into their program.
This month, Catholic Charities veterans service program will take part in the city’s Veterans Day Parade and will be giving out free Thanksgiving turkeys to all veterans signed up for their program.
For more information, or to make a donation, visit CatholicCharities.AZ.org