PARSIPPANY, NJ --
Community Hope approaches Veterans Day on November 11th reaching a milestone. Since opening its first program for homeless veterans twelve years ago, the organization’s Hope for Veterans® Programs have ensured a safe warm place to sleep for 4,500 veterans and their family members. Last year alone, Community Hope rescued 1,500 veterans and their families from homelessness.
The umbrella of the Hope for Veterans Programs includes:
- The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program is Community Hope’s largest veterans program. SSVF provided rapid re-housing and prevented homelessness for 750 veterans and their family members last year.
- Transitional housing for homeless veterans, where they can reside for up to two years and receive a depth of support services, employment services, on-site mental health counseling and linkage to the VA healthcare and other services. The largest of Community Hope’s two transitional housing programs serves 95 veterans a day and is located on the VA NJ Healthcare Campus in Lyons NJ where veterans can conveniently access healthcare.
- Permanent housing in Community Hope’s Valley Brook Village, also on the Lyons VA campus. Built in 2013, the village contains 62 subsidized apartments and on-site employment and support services. For many veterans residing at Valley Brook, it is the first place they have had to call home in many years.
- Emergency housing for homeless veterans in crisis.
Increase in Female and Post 911 War Veterans
“We are serving an increasing number of female veterans and Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in our largest program,” said J. Michael Armstrong. “The number of our veterans struggling with homelessness who were recently-deployed in the war on terror jumped from 20% to 25%. Many are struggling with combat trauma that affects their ability to hold down a job and maintain relationships with family and friends and can leave them feeling lost and isolated.”
Armstrong said that there is a tremendous benefit in the peer support his organization is able to provide veterans. He said that peer support comes from other veterans residing in the programs as well as the support staff, more than half of whom are veterans themselves.
Armstrong reported that female veterans comprise 17 percent to 20 percent of the veterans served in the SSVF program and that they are “in particularly dire straits”. “We have rescued female veterans in the middle of winter living in their cars with their young children because they have nowhere else to go,” said Armstrong. “It is hard to see our veterans in these situations and makes us want to do all we can to reach them quickly and get them the basic necessities and longer-term support they need to stand on their own again.”
Community Hope’s transitional housing programs are open to veterans throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. In addition, its SSVF Program operates in 15 of New Jersey’s 21 counties and seven PA counties. They are Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Ocean, Union and Warren Counties in New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, the SSVF program serves homeless and at-risk veteran households in Bucks, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, Pike and Wyoming Counties.
National Awards Recognize Community Hope’s Work to End Veteran Homelessness
In the past twelve years, Community Hope has been at the forefront of working to address the issue of homelessness among veterans. In 2014, the organization won the Home Depot Foundation’s and the National Council of Homeless Veterans’ (NCHV) awards competition at the national conference in Washington, D.C. and became the first recipient of the national Pete Dougherty Award for Excellence in Supportive Housing for Homeless Veterans. Community Hope was cited for its outstanding contributions to the national campaign to end veteran homelessness in the United States. The charity also received the 2010 Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Service to Homeless Veterans presented by then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans and veteran families struggling with homelessness or facing eviction can call Community Hope’s 24-hour referral hotline at 1-855-483-8466 or email SSVF@NJ211.org
. In addition, referrals for single homeless veterans to the Hope for Veterans® transitional housing programs can be made to the Veterans Intake Coordinator at (908) 647-5717 extension 325.