$507,000 grant to help local veterans with housing issues

A recently acquired grant will enable a local agency to help low-income veterans find stable housing.

Washington-Morgan Community Action has been awarded a $507,000 Veterans Administration grant for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.

The funding will also be used to provide services through Gallia-Meigs Community Action and Muskingum Economic Opportunity Action Group, Inc., with the goal of ensuring residential security for veterans who are struggling with homelessness. That’s a problem more prevalent than many people realize, said Carrie McNamee, senior and community services program director for Community Action.

“I think homelessness is different in rural areas. It’s not right in our face. A lot of the homelessness in rural areas is the couch surfing-living with a family member until maybe they get in trouble with the landlord,” she said.

Ultimately, the three organizations sharing the grant hope to help 100 veterans and their families-30 in Muskingum County, 20 in Gallia and Meigs counties and 50 in Washington and Morgan counties, said McNamee.

To achieve that end, the grant has enabled each organization to hire a case manager to coordinate veterans housing services.

Veterans Case Manager Brandy Clift joined Washington-Morgan Community Action last month and has been working on outreach-contacting veterans who may need and qualify for assistance.

Clift served as an Ombudsman, offering support and information to Naval families during her husband’s eight years in the Navy, and said she is familiar with the struggles veterans can face.

“When they get out of the service it can be difficult for them to secure a job or if they do find a job it’s not something that will be their career….They may get behind on rent or get to the point they are living with relatives,” she said.

Currently Clift acts as a liaison between a landlord and a veteran to ensure a secure housing situation.

Though the main portion of the grant funding helps pay for the case managers some funding is also available to pay for bills on a limited and temporary basis, said McNamee.

“There is some limited financial assistance available for utility deposits, rent, security deposits, things they need for employment like uniforms or work boots,” she said.

And while the bulk of Clift’s job will be forming and managing a housing plan for veterans, she can also help put them in contact with other services they need, such as employment, medical or travel assistance.

“Whatever they need, I’m here for support,” she said.

To qualify for assistance, veterans must fall below 50 percent of the area median income, which would be different depending on service county.

For a single individual that would mean an annual income of $19,550 or lower to qualify in Washington County and $18,550 in the other four counties.

Veterans interested in learning more about the program should contact Clift at 373-3745.