Hawaii lands $2.1M to help homeless heroes

LIHUE — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced $300 million in grants were awarded to 301 community agencies nationwide to help 115,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. And the islands will get a piece.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Hawaii community organizations would receive $2.1 million.

Catholic Charities Hawaii will receive $1.1 million and the U.S. Veterans Initiative is receiving a $1 million.

“Homelessness among veterans is a national tragedy,” Hanabusa said in a release.

Debra DeLuis, director of Catholic Charities Hawaii on Kauai, has not received a break down of how much each island will receive, but said she was very pleased the money has been set aside.

“It’s really a great program,” she said. “Right now the main focus is on homeless veterans.”

DeLuis said the money allows Catholic Charities to do much more, and in ways it wasn’t able to in the past when resources were scarce. And veterans would be the first to agree, she said.

Veterans statewide may apply if eligible based on housing and income. Under the terms of the grants, homeless providers will offer veterans and their family members outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining benefits and assistance from VA and other services to include health care, housing, job training and education.

Community nonprofits can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of veterans for rent, utilities, security deposits and moving costs.

The $1 billion Eliminating Veteran Homelessness initiative started in 2009, as part of the federal government’s goal to end veteran homelessness by 2015. A 2013 estimate showed that veteran homelessness has declined 24 percent since 2009, according to McDonald.

Info: 241-4673 or online at www.va.gov/homeless

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