Friday, October 15, 2010

New Help for Homeless Veterans:
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has announced that 40 states will share more than $41.9 million in grants to community groups to provide 2,568 beds for homeless Veterans this year.
“These grants wouldn’t have happened without the extraordinary partnerships forged with community organizers,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “These investments will provide transitional beds to Veterans who have served honorably, but for various reasons now find themselves in a downward spiral toward despair and homelessness.”
The Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program provides grants and per diem payments to help public and nonprofit organizations establish and operate new supportive housing and service centers for homeless Veterans.
The $41.9 million is broken into two categories. About $26.9 million will help renovate, rehabilitate or acquire space for 1,352 transitional housing beds. A second group of awards, valued at $15 million, will immediately fund 1,216 beds at existing transitional housing for homeless Veterans this year. The awards will cover daily living costs based upon the number of homeless Veterans being served in transitional housing.
A key component of VA’s plan to eliminate homelessness among Veterans within five years, the grants and per diem payments helped reduce the number of Veterans who were homeless on a typical night last year by 18 percent to about 107,000 Veterans within one year.
VA’s strategy to eliminate homelessness among Veterans is to implement a “no wrong door" approach, meaning Veterans who seek assistance should find it in any number of VA’s programs, from community partners or through contract services.
Under the Secretary’s action plan to end homelessness among Veterans, VA will continue to offer a full range of support necessary to end the cycle of homelessness by providing education, jobs, health care and counseling, in addition to housing. VA will increase the number and variety of housing options available to homeless Veterans and those at risk, including permanent, transitional, contracted, community-operated and VA-operated housing. Most importantly, VA will target at-risk Veteran populations with aggressive support intervention to try to prevent homelessness before it starts.
For more information, visit VA’s Web page for VA’s National Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Office at Additionally, VA has a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838),

Friday, October 01, 2010

A couple of questions about court in Sarasota:

A few weeks ago a client came to see me and asked if I could represent him. He was homeless and charged with a minor offense and the judge had been giving him a hard time because he wore shorts to court. His possessions were limited to those he could carry and he didn’t own long pants.

I agreed to take the case. Yesterday I bought him some pants at Goodwill. This morning I met him outside the courthouse. He had his duffle bag that contained all of his possessions. We got in the long security line to enter the courthouse. My client’s bag was put through the x-ray system and rejected. He had can openers and utensils and other odd objects. The bailiffs didn’t want to take the time for him to unpack and go through each compartment, not with a hundred people in line behind us They told him he had to take it away, that he couldn’t leave it there and he couldn’t bring it inside.

Now this story ended without problem. I took his bag and walked out and locked it in my trunk and we went to court. But what about everyone else with all that they own in their possession and a date with a judge? What are they supposed to do with their duffle bags and knapsacks?

And how are they supposed to pay their court costs? But at least he was wearing long pants.

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