PARSIPPANY, NJ --
U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg ((D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) announced the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has awarded $1 million to Community Hope, Inc. to assist homeless veterans through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. SSVF is a new VA program that awards grants to private non-profit organizations to provide assistance to very low-income Veterans and their families residing in or transitioning to permanent housing. The grant is expected to assist about 140 veteran families.
Community Hope and its partners will provide a range of financial assistance and supportive services designed to promote housing stability. Financial assistance can include help with back rent, mortgage or utility payments for families struggling to remain in their homes. For veterans and their families who have lost their housing, SSVF will provide financial aid with rental and utility security deposits and initial rental payments. Support services can range from assistance with transportation; child care; 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.
“We recognize that this is a tough time for our veterans and their families, particularly those who have been recently deployed and return to try to find jobs in this economy or struggle with the trauma of combat while trying to maintain their family responsibilities,” explains Community Hope CEO J. Michael Armstrong. “The support services we will be providing will be equally as important as the financial assistance to our veterans and their families. What has led these veteran families into difficulty in keeping their home? Is it a job loss or a returning veteran that is struggling to re-acclimate? This is where we can help in getting them the employment services to get back to work or linking them to a support group or recovery services that will help them start healing from the trauma of combat.”
Armstrong said that Community Hope has brought together a partnership comprised of Catholic Charities and University Behavioral Healthcare, which operates the Vets2Vets and Vets4Vets hotlines for veterans and families needing assistance. The partnership will serve veteran families in the New Jersey counties of Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Warren.
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. In July, Community Hope launched the Veterans Early Transition Services (VETS) Program, a 12-bed housing program in Newark where the nonprofit’s staff provide 24-hour support to homeless veterans. Six years earlier, 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 nearly 500 veterans overcome homelessness.
Community Hope and its private developer partner, Peabody Properties, are also planning construction of 63 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless and disabled veterans on a vacant tract of land at the Department of Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System campus at Lyons, NJ. Construction of Valley Brook Village could commence before year-end.
Community Hope has been helping individuals recover from mental illness and substance abuse in specialized residential programs since 1985. Today, the nonprofit organization provides housing and support services to more than 300 individuals a day.
Community Hope’s SSVF Program is expected to commence within the next 60 days and a hotline number for veterans and their families will be staffed by University Behavioral Healthcare’s VETS 2VETS and VETS4VETS.