PARSIPPANY, NJ --
Community Hope has been awarded $5 million by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to expand its successful Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program
. The grant enables the nonprofit organization to expand its SSVF Program into eleven of New Jersey’s 21 counties and eastern Pennsylvania.
Already the largest organization in New Jersey serving homeless veterans
, Community Hope CEO J. Michael Armstrong said his nonprofit expects to help as many as 910 veteran families avert homelessness in the year ahead.
Community Hope presently serves homeless and at-risk veteran households in Middlesex Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union
and Warren countie
s. With the grant awarded this past week, the agency will expand this successful model for homeless prevention and rapid re-housing to low-income veterans and their families in Bergen, Essex, Hudson
and Hunterdon counties
. Community Hope will also establish SSVF services in eastern Pennsylvania, including Bucks, Monroe, Northampton
and Pike counties
. The expanded services will commence as early as October.
“This is a pro-active approach to helping our veterans and their families who have already sacrificed so much,” said Armstrong. “We are proud to be on the cutting edge of ensuring that those who honorably served our country do not fall into poverty, despair and homelessness,”
He said his agency has served more than 1,000 homeless veterans and veteran families in the past seven years. Since Community Hope established one of the first SSVF programs in the nation twenty months ago, the nonprofit has helped more than 230 veteran households
remain in their homes or, when facing eviction and homelessness, has rapidly re-housed them and helped stabilize the family. Of those families, more than 75% were living far below poverty levels with single veterans earning less than $21,000 and families of four earning under $27,000.
Armstrong reports that the veteran families his agency has served since November 2011 range from young soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to war veterans in their nineties. He explained that these families have been threatened by homelessness for various reasons, including returning soldiers unable to find jobs with a live-able wage to support themselves and their families to combat veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and other war injuries.
He said the program is increasingly representative of our latest conflicts and the increase of women in the military with nearly one out of five SSVF veterans served being post 9/11 soldiers and 17% being female veterans
, including single mothers.
Veterans enrolled into the SSVF Program are eligible for a range of financial assistance and supportive services to help them avoid eviction and to rapidly re-house them if they have become recently homeless. Financial assistance to the veteran and their family can include help with back rent or utility payments for families struggling to remain in their homes. For veteran families who have lost their housing, SSVF can provide financial aid with rental and utility security deposits and initial rental payments.
Community Hope’s support services range from assistance with transportation; child care; employment services; linkage to medical care, behavioral healthcare and recovery services for veterans experiencing PTSD and other effects of combat; and other services to help the veterans and their family re-establish financial stability and self-sufficiency.
In the past ten years, Community Hope has been at the forefront of working in collaboration with the NJ Veterans Affairs Healthcare System to address the issue of homelessness among veterans. The organization opened the Hope for Veterans® Transitional Housing Program
in 2004 as the largest program in New Jersey and the Tri-State metropolitan area to serve homeless veterans. With 95 beds, Hope for Veterans® has helped more than700 veterans overcome homelessness in the past seven years.
The agency, in conjunction with its private developer partner, Peabody Properties, is also preparing to open Valley Brook Village for Veterans in September
. The project contains 62 one- and two-bedroom apartments where homeless and disabled veterans will have an affordable place to call home and on-site support and employment services.
Veteran families in need of assistance through Community Hope’s SSVF Program should call 1-855-483-8466
. For referrals to Valley Brook Village apartments for homeless veterans, opening this fall, contact 973-975-6218