Yesterday, the New England Center for Homelessness and the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) unveiled the Statewide Housing Advocacy for Reintegration and Prevention (SHARP) initiative, a new federally-funded pilot program that will serve chronically homeless veterans in the Boston Metro area.
The initiative comes on the heels of a new report released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness which shows the extraordinary impact of programs available through DVS. In one year alone, the rate of homelessness among veterans in Massachusetts has dropped by 21 percent, nearly twice the rate of reduction nationally.
SHARP is funded by a $323,000 federal grant and will provide greater resources to address a crucial need: the successful integration of veterans back into the community. Participants in the program receive federal housing vouchers and access to mental health services, as well as special housing that provides on-call care. The participants also join a network of fellow veterans who understand better than anyone the struggles they have faced.
At DVS, we hold firmly that no veteran who has served his/her country should be left to deal with the challenge of homelessness alone. As Henry Kettel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Massachusetts, succinctly put it yesterday: "No one who has put his or her life on the line for all of us should come home to no home."
Yesterday’s event celebrated the significant progress that we’ve made helping homeless veterans throughout the Commonwealth, and we remain mindful that our goal is to eliminate veteran homelessness completely.
As Governor Patrick said in recognition of SHARP, “We are ending homelessness among veterans. Today, thanks to the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Murray, our Department of Veterans’ Services and our federal partners, we are seeing significant progress. But we must keep going to ensure that the men and women who have served our country in uniform have access to all the benefits their service has earned them.”
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