Long Beach: Mayor Robert Garcia, accompanied by Long Beach Veteran Affairs Healthcare System Director Michael Fisher, today announced that the City of Long Beach has committed to ending veteran homelessness before the close of 2015.
“No veteran of the American armed forces should ever be without a home. Every single veteran deserves a place to live,” said Garcia. “That’s why the President initiated the Mayors Challenge to end Veteran Homelessness, and why I enthusiastically joined that challenge as one of my first acts as Mayor.”
President Obama initiated the Mayor’s Challenge during his first term, and called on cities to house every veteran before 2016.
At a press conference in front of the newly remodeled VA Healthcare System complex, citing, “Many outstanding community partners, including the VA and US Vets,” Garcia pledged unequivocally: “We will end veteran homelessness in Long Beach this year.”
Fisher echoed this confidence. “We are grateful to have such strong partners as we have in the City of Long Beach, and with the support of the VA and HUD, I know we can achieve this noble goal.”
City Director of Health and Human Services Kelly Colopy also highlighted the importance of a collaborative relationship, and the progress the City has made.
“Together with our many wonderful partners in this effort, we are housing between 12-15 veterans per month,” she said. The Long Beach continuum of care includes the City’s Multi-Service Center, Mental Health America, and United States Veterans Initiative (US Vets).
Colopy cited data from the City’s recently completed annual homeless count, showing a decrease of 70% in the number of homeless veterans in the city – from 309 in 2011 to 94 at present. The City has housed more than 500 vets, but newly homeless veterans, or vets who relocate to Long Beach and lack housing, have kept the City from completely eliminating veteran homelessness. However, new federal housing vouchers, and a strengthened relationship between the City and the VA have brought that goal within reach, according to Colopy and Mayor Garcia.
The City of Long Beach has $6.4 million in Housing Assistance Funding for 664 housing vouchers specific to Veterans, $2 million for supportive services for veterans and families, and 500 housing units providing homes for veterans at the Villages of Cabrillo, with supportive services in the community.
432 mayors, 7 governors and 131 county and city officials have joined the national Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.