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October 9, 2001

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced $10.5 million in grants to more than 60 public and private nonprofit groups to develop or expand programs to assist homeless veterans.

"We have seen a growing interest from America's communities in joining our fight against homelessness," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi.  "The grants we have awarded over the past seven years have established strong community partnerships necessary to deliver the lifeline homeless veterans need.  I intend to see those partnerships grow even stronger."

Called the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program, it allows VA to assist public and private non-profit agencies to establish and operate new supportive housing and service centers for homeless veterans.  Grants may also be used to purchase vans to conduct outreach or provide transportation for homeless veterans.  

Since the program's first year in 1994, VA has awarded 306 grants to nonprofit organizations.  Total funding has exceeded $60 million.

"Currently more than 3,000 veterans sleep each night in beds already funded under VA's Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program, and approximately 3,000 more beds are in the pipeline," said Principi.  "This year's grants will create 874 new beds and fund 45 new vans to conduct outreach or provide transportation for homeless veterans." 

While there is no true measure of the number of homeless veterans, it has been estimated that more than 200,000 veterans may be homeless on any given night.  About one-third of the adult homeless male population and nearly one-quarter of all homeless adults have served their country in the armed services.

In addition to the Grant and Per Diem Program, VA is the only federal agency that provides substantial hands-on assistance directly to homeless persons.  In 2000, VA dedicated nearly $150 million to its specialized homeless programs, including health care, rehabilitation, and outreach and counseling programs for homeless veterans.  In fact, more than 50,000 homeless veterans received care through VA last year.

This year's grants, ranging from $4,258 to nearly $1 million, will provide up to 65 percent of the cost of acquiring or renovating facilities that will be used for housing, for service centers, or to acquire a van to transport veterans to needed services.

“This country's 200,000 homeless veterans, many of whom served in a war zone, now face the daily battles of life on the streets, battles that are fought in poverty and isolation, pain and confusion," Principi said. "VA's partnerships with public and non-profit organizations, a number of which are faith-based, have provided help, opportunity and hope to homeless veterans struggling for their dignity and, often, their very survival.” 

Information on the program is available on VA’s home page, which can be reached through the Internet at http: www.va.gov/homeless/index.cfm.

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 Bruce "Doc". Melson

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