Last July, an American Legion Post in Jewett City renovated its building to provide permanent supportive housing to chronically homeless veterans. The project in Jewett City created fifteen apartments solely for veterans. It's rural communities like Jewett City where the VA has had a hard time connecting with veterans nationwide.
Now, a year later, these apartments have helped eighteen veterans in Connecticut. Permanent supportive housing is unique because there's no timetable for veterans to move out and they also receive on- site help from social workers from the VA and Reliance House, a community based non profit from Norwich.
Federal housing vouchers known as HUD-VASH help pay the rent. Debra Minzy is a clinical social worker and HUD-VASH site manager for the VA Newington campus. "Veterans have gotten to know each other, they've gotten to know their community like how to utilize their bus route, what resources are out there. I think they've really settled in and it feels like home to them."
Minzy says at least two have moved on after their income improved and they were able to support themselves independently. One veteran was recently evicted because he was unable to follow all of the terms of the permanent supportive housing. Those terms include participating in case management and being able to pay a portion of the rent not covered by the HUDVASH vouchers.
This is the fourth year of the Secretary Eric Shinseki's of the VA's Five Year Plan to End Homelessness. In Connecticut, that means more aggressive efforts to reach veterans according to Preston Maynard, the Director of Homeless Programs for VA Connecticut. He says last year the VA was able to reach 950 new veterans who were homeless or at risk an increase of 150 from the year before. And more permanent supportive housing has opened up in other parts of the state including the new Victory Gardens at the VA campus in Newington.