Blog Archives

 

For our site visitors who aren’t as social as we are – at least, not following us on Twitter or Facebook – here are some highlights from the past week on social media from Veterans Matter.

We…

…honored the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by sharing this image and quote:
mlkflagquote_1000x523

…promoted one of our latest blog posts, How House Keys Unlock New Starts for Vets, which talks about the effectiveness of Housing First.

…celebrated #WomensDay (more commonly known as Wednesday) by recognizing the bravery of the female pilots of WWII. You can read about them in Yankee Doodle Gals by Amy Nathan. (Don’t forget to choose ‘1matters Org’ as your charity on Amazon Smile – any purchases you make there don’t cost your more, but they help support us!)

…thanked our sponsors and made a last call for more to support #Dine419, a week-long to benefit Veterans Matter by eating at local restaurants in Toledo. Initiated by Toledo Free Press, presented by Hollywood Casino, sponsored by Bottomline Ink and Toledo.com, and hosted at lots of great Toledo eateries!

…congratulated celebrity supporter John Mellencamp on the kick-off of his new tour.

…shared cool stories about formerly homeless veterans giving back to their brothers and sisters in need.

…posted the latest Veterans Housed to Date info – now up to 523 veterans/veteran families + 79 spouses + 213 children = 815 people off the streets!

 

“No strings attached, just, you know, ‘we want you off the street’ kind of housing, that’s great… Given my situation, where I’m able and want to work, that’s the kind of stuff that really helps out, because once you have a place to live, you can store your things, take a shower, cook your food, and you can start to live life like a regular human being again.” – Daniel Martin, 29, homeless veteran in San Diego, in a September 2014 ‘All Things Considered’ NPR broadcast.

Photo: Woodleywonderworks, CC license via flickr

Photo: Woodleywonderworks, CC license via flickr

Daniel’s comments are pretty close to the mark for advocates of the Housing First method of “solving” homelessness. The philosophy is centered on stabilizing the world of the homeless individual or family by getting them into their own apartment, then working with them through case management to address the issues that landed them on the street in the first place. It’s this method of social service that’s driving the VA’s success in reducing homelessness among veterans by at least 33% since 2010, when they, along with HUD, announced their goal to end veteran homelessness by the close of 2015.

67% in less than 12 months may seem like a long way to travel, but the push has been gaining momentum in the last year, especially after Michelle Obama joined the effort in June 2014 and introduced the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, a follow-up to the VA’s 25 Cities Initiative, which launched in March 2014. Our founder, Ken Leslie, was in the room at the invitation of the White House when the First Lady made the call to action. You can read about his visit here. Since then, three large U.S. cities have announced success in ending chronic veteran homelessness: Phoenix, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT; New Orleans, LA. That’s two out of the originally listed 25 cities which have accomplished this goal in less than a year.

As for Veterans Mater, we have operations in five out of the 25 cities — Boston, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. — as well as several other areas. Of the currently 518 veterans/veteran families for whom we’ve provided the final step that gets them over the threshold into their home, we only get to hear a tiny fraction of the stories of success, joy and new hope. We respect the confidentiality of the veterans we serve, so we rely on the VA’s social workers (VASH managers) to tell us about the life transformation that happens for these men, women and children when they finally have a place to call home. Every single story makes us cry.

There’s a common thread to these stories: relief, gratitude, happy shock, enthusiasm, hope. It becomes evident over and over again that a key to an apartment unlocks so much more than a door; it also unlocks our veterans from the stress of day-to-day survival, the rejection of society, the disappointment in programs that claim to help but don’t (or, at least not fast enough), and the hopelessness of being stuck in a rut. These brave but beleaguered souls, who have fought and sacrificed for our freedom, now come into a freedom of their own when they can settle into one place; one safe, warm, and permanent spot in which they belong. They are freed to then move into new places in their personal progress, with the help of professional case managers dedicated to ensuring their success. And it’s a high rate of success, too: 91% of the veterans housed this way maintain their housing. 

Veterans aren’t the only beneficiaries of the Housing First method of reducing homelessness. Extensive studies on Housing First show how this approach saves communities thousands of dollars per homeless participant since stable housing prevents strains on commonly-used infrastructures and services like jails, shelters, ambulance rides, police time, and emergency room visits. While the philosophy is a relatively recent adoption by governments and social services, the ideology behind it could realistically date back to 1943, when psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his hierarchy of needs in Psychological Review. His “Theory of Human Motivation” detailed the levels of a pyramid-shaped graph of human development, showing how a person builds on different types of needs to move through individual growth. The most basic needs, what Maslow termed as ‘Physiological’, make up the bottom. These needs have to be met before a personal can most successfully move toward the pinnacle of the hierarchy: Self-Actualization, or the person’s full potential. So, what does a person need at the very outset? Food, water, air, clothing… and shelter. And the next levels builds from there, focused on personal, financial, and physical safety. Only a home can truly provide the shelter and safety an individual or family need to continue to move toward autonomy.

What illustrates the real success of this approach and our involvement in housing these veterans is one of those stories we mentioned:

“… [one] of the most recent referrals is a young man who had been living in his van for almost two years. He refused to go to shelters because he felt it would lead to a relapse in his recovery and wanted to maintain his independence. He moved into his house last week and showed it to me yesterday. The pride in his eyes and the excitement in his voice as he told me what his future plans were made it all worthwhile. He went from being frustrated, angry and hopeless to a man with a future again. You helped to make this possible. Thank you.”

— Miguel Ortega, VASH Manager

Want to help us meet our goal of housing 1500 veterans in 2015? You can donate here, as well as help us spread the word on social media. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for frequent updates.

 

For our site visitors who aren’t as social as we are – at least, not following us on Twitter or Facebook – here are some highlights from the past week on social media from Veterans Matter.

We…

…celebrated our newest chapter, Operation Mid-Atlantic, housing its first veteran family, including 4 children.

…congratulated the City of New Orleans and its Mayor Mitch Landrieu for ending chronic homelessness among veterans there.

…posted a new video, recapping what we’ve been able to accomplish together.

…shared founder Ken Leslie’s urgent request to get more veteran families out of the cold.

…let our followers know about some cool veteran-related things we’ve found here and there.

…updated our friends on how many veterans/veteran families are now off the streets (518 veterans – 805 people, including 207 children!).

…wished a happy birthday to Kid Rock, one of our celebrity supporters.

…told folks about Toledo Free Press’s Dine419, happening in Feb. 23 – Mar. 1, which will benefit Veterans Matter.

 
Ken on a street "blitz" in Flint, MI, in 2012. These blitzes are searches with the VA to find homeless veterans and get them connected to resources.

Ken (far right) on a street “blitz” in Flint, MI, in 2012. These blitzes are searches with the VA to find homeless veterans and get them connected to resources.

I started Veterans Matter just to house 35 local unhoused veterans. It has now gone viral nationally because it works well, and works so fast. Over 500 veterans already housed nationally.

There are veterans waiting to get housed today! Let me repeat that: there are veterans waiting today, all they need is the deposit! They literally can be in a new home tonight!

Our target this year is to help 1500 veterans get housed. That is why we are moving as fast as we can, and need your help as fast as you can.

All donations right now have a 100% guarantee of not only moving a homeless veteran into long term permanent housing, but freeing up money that allows communities to prevent another veteran or veteran family from replacing them on the frozen streets.

Let me repeat that, too. You can prevent another veteran or veteran family from becoming homeless in the first place.

We are not perpetual fundraisers. We never raise more money than we need; once we have enough for an area of operation we close fundraising and move on to the next AO. This means each year we need to raise enough to match the new vouchers. Nearly ten thousand vouchers were released nationally this year and our goal is to house at least 1500. That means we need to raise a little over a million dollars.

For those who just asked, “Why we don’t help them all?” We will, if we have the money – money you can help provide right now.

NOTE: Is the sense of urgency coming through? That’s because I have been homeless. There is not upside; it sucks! Period. 25% of the people in those 500+ veterans and veteran families we have already housed are children. Pardon the language, but that lights my ass on fire. It’s cold out there and we have the ability to help more people get off the streets today.

Veterans Matter’s innovative partnership with the entertainment industry (20 celebrities and growing – list below), foundations, and the private sector are all working with HUD and the VA to house our ready veterans in literally minutes. Because we can, because we should.

You will truly be a hero to each and every man, woman and child in a veteran family that you give a warm bed in a warm home. Think about that. This is not a sales pitch, just facts.

Veterans Matter has a 100% success rate because the VA staff has already screened the veteran, found permanent housing meeting federal safety guidelines, and verified his/her ability to maintain their housing long-term with the VA’s continuing case management. All they need to cross the threshold into that warm home is the deposit, which we provide.

This is how it works: Once the VA staff has a veteran ready to be housed, they submit a referral to Veterans Matter. Using simplicity of design, technology, and execution, our cloud-based referral system allows all conforming deposit referrals to be immediately approved and confirmed with an email generated to the landlord directly. Because of the strong celebrity support from artists ranging from Katy Perry to Stevie Nicks, many landlords allow our confirmation email to serve as the actual deposit and house the veteran or veteran family immediately. We then mail the check to the landlord the same day.

Because your donations pay the deposit, it frees up money the social workers can then use to prevent another veteran or veteran family from becoming homeless.

Susan Sarandon, no stranger to campaigning on behalf of the homeless, joined the cause in September 2014.

Susan Sarandon, no stranger to campaigning on behalf of the homeless, joined the cause in September 2014.

We are talking about long-term housing in a VA program that has a 91% success rate in veterans and veteran families still housed a year later. Yes, the VA has huge issues on the medical side, but on homeless veterans side they have cracked the code.

.Our impressive roster of celebrity support has been instrumental in disseminating our message and mission. This partnership has over 20 supporting artists raising funds or getting the word out including Katy Perry, Susan Sarandon, Darius Rucker, Darryl Worley, Dusty Hill and ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Emerson Drive, Heart, Ice-T, Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland), John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, Kid Rock, Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn), Mitch Albom, and Stevie Nicks. Each artist produced 30-second public service announcements, which are broadcast nationwide on the Cumulus Media Network annually during May and November, urging fans to “text the word VETS to 41444 to donate any amount on your credit card.”

Honestly, there are veterans and veteran families living in their cars and on the streets right now just waiting for that last piece you will provide: the deposit. That’s all that is stopping them.

We have created the ultimate program for homeless veterans because:

  • We can house them literally in minutes.
  • We have a 100% success rate housing them in a long–term program with a 91% success rate.
  • You know exactly what your donation does: Provide the deposit to house READY homeless veterans who are waiting today.
  • This also prevents others from becoming homeless.
  • Your money does not go to big salaries or overhead.

Veterans Matter is a program of 1Matters.org, a Toledo, OH-based 501(c)3 established in 2007 after singer John Mellencamp visited our annual Tent City/Stand Down event in 2007. John was so impressed he invited every Tent City guest to his show that evening and one came back after and said, “Ken, John talked to us from the stage, I guess I really do matter.” – and 1Matters was born. John has continued his paternity. Overhead costs for Veterans Matter are provided by the founder’s company and 1Matters, and program costs are running at an impressively low 17%-20% depending on revenue.  Feel free to compare that anywhere.  For more information you can just Google “homeless veterans matter” or visit VeteransMatter.org

If you are one who cares about our homeless veterans, PLEASE donate right now and then share this with your friends of like mind. We can do this, and we can do this right now.

This is your chance to give back to our heroes.

Here are our current Areas of Operation and how much we need to cover all vouchers for each area for this year and a link to donate to each:

We can open up other Areas of Operation with sufficient funding availability. Contact us for more info if you would like to chat about funding an area.

We have but one implacable standard for every single decision we make: What is best for the people we serve. Nothing else matters, politics, policy debates, critics or opinions. Fortunately homeless veterans are the one topic both sides of the aisle and most Americans fully support, as we should.

While you read this blog another veteran or veteran family is ready to be housed. Are you ready to house them? If so, click here or just text the word “Vets” to 41444 and then click through to make a donation of any amount on your credit card.

Please share this right now on your Facebook or twitter. We must take care of our own.

Onward – Homeward
Ken Leslie, Founder

 
Photo: Sally Mahoney, CC license via flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/sally_12/339912423

Photo: Sally Mahoney, CC license via flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/sally_12/339912423

Looking back on a year past can be a mixed bag of emotions; regret, joy, pride, sorrow, wonder, surprise, love… When our small staff looked back over 2014 for Veterans Matter, our strongest feeling, arcing beautifully above all the others, was gratitude. We are entering into 2015 with lessons learned, excited for new possibilities and over new ideas, but what’s really fueling our ambitious commitment to house at least 1500 more homeless veterans in 2015 is how thankful we are in several ways:

  • In February, three new chapters joined when Indiana raised over $37,000 in just 11 hours to start Operation Indiana, and Seattle, WA, secured funds to get veterans housed in their area. The third, Operation Tennessee, formed when Kix Brooks recommitted his support after his 2013 participation.
  • By our May radio broadcast campaign, generously hosted by the Cumulus Media network, 14 musicians and celebrities had signed on to our roster of famous supporters. They not only lent their face to the campaign, but most of them also lent their voice by recording PSAs, some even making their own video. These PSAs went nationwide and, together with other campaign efforts, put 50 more veterans into safe, permanent housing.
  • Also in May, we celebrated housing our 250th veteran/veteran family. Since the launch of the Veterans Matter program by parent nonprofit 1Matters.org in February 2012, our team had worked closely with regional VASH managers in seven chapters, the most recent one being Operation Michigan. This newest chapter took off in March when author, journalist and broadcaster Mitch Albom’s foundation donated an amazing $15,000, immediately housing 16 veterans in Michigan.
  • A few folks in Washington sat up and took notice of our program’s success and invited Veterans Matter founder Ken Leslie to visit the White House in June to be part of a national commitment and push to end veteran homelessness by 2015.
  • When Toledo, OH, experienced a water crisis in early August, Veterans Matter was honored to b a part of a large joint effort to get water to housebound veterans as well as to the area’s shelters. The compassion we saw in action still brings tears to our eyes.
  • Over the next six months, we would double our success and house another 250 veterans. That’s right… what had taken us over two years to accomplish had gained momentum and allowed us to celebrate housing our 500th veteran/veteran family by Veteran’s Day in November.
  • Along the way, we added a couple more famous friends to our cause. Susan Sarandon, no stranger to campaigning on behalf of the unhoused, recorded her PSA in late September. Country duo Big & Rich recorded their own video PSA on the streets of New York.
  • And we’ll never forget what Katy Perry’s generosity did when we auctioned off a VIP concert package that included a backstage meet-and-greet. The money raised housed 22 veterans, and the winner, Scott Vaughn, decided he wanted to house veterans in his area and initiated the Mid-Atlantic chapter. (By the way, Scott’s continuing to personally invest in his idea by committing to match donations up to $5,000 through January 31, 2015. Click here to double your donation!)
  • Throughout the year, various fundraisers occurred to keep the momentum going. From CD release parties from local musicians, to Toledo’s annual 1Mile Matters walk that benefited Veterans Matter, people showed up, took action, and gave from the heart.
  • Even after our May campaign ended, some of our celebrity friends were still talking about us, posting to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. A simple post by Kid Rock on Facebook in August housed two more veterans/veteran families in his home state of Michigan. In November, Stevie Nicks, Darius Rucker, Big & Rich, Natalie Stovall & the Drive, Mitch Albom, Kix Brooks, and Susan Sarandon tweeted, and another flood of funding came in to house more veterans.
  • In December, Ken flew out (with donated air miles from supporters) to the NJ national headquarters of Rolling Thunder, the all-veteran motorcycle group. He joined Mid-Atlantic chapter members Ki Magee, Cameron Kaufman, and Doug Harts. This awesome group let us talk about our mission, then shared their Christmas dinner with us.

Most significant of all, people like you – probably YOU specifically – took a moment and made a donation. Whether it was a much-needed one-time gift or a pledge of allegiance to regularly get more heroes and their families off our nation’s streets, you made ending veteran homeless REAL for over 325 servicemen and –women in 2014 alone. Because you’ve given in the last (almost) three years, nearly 800 people, including over 200 children, have a roof over their heads and a place to sleep, dream, and start new lives.

You – YOU – make us proud and grateful to be doing this work with you. Thank you, and Happy 2015.

With all our thank-filled hearts,
Ken Leslie & the Veterans Matter team (Shawn, Evelyn, Abby & Amanda)

 

RollingThunder

How could you not be amazed by this group?

I am just walking in the door direct from a Veterans Matter Team trip to Manville, NJ – the home of the Rolling Thunder National Headquarters.

The entire Rolling Thunder organization in Manville, NJ, is top-notch!! Everyone was very welcoming and there is a spirit of energy, enthusiasm, camaraderie, and deep-rooted commitment to the cause of honoring and being the voice for POW/ MIAs of all wars.

In addition to this heroic effort, Rolling Thunder also offers much needed support to all veterans through numerous community outreaches, lobbying and national awareness raising initiatives. The organization has 90+ chapters world-wide of highly committed members that align and carry out the Rolling Thunder vision all across America.

I visited the organization last month and mentioned to their President Gary Scheffmeyer some of the work we were doing with Veterans Matter and he invited me to speak about the work of Veterans Matter during their December meeting. During the presentation I spoke about my tours in combat in Iraq and a later deployment to Afghanistan. I offered that transitions back to the non-combat setting and transitions out of the military go harder for some than it does others, but at the end of the day it is still one team, one fight, and whether in or out of uniform, we take care of our Shipmates, our Battle Buddies, our Wing Men and our Marines (Marines are Marines – enough said).

Following my remarks, I opened the floor to Ken Leslie, our authentic and charismatic leader, who flew in from Toledo, OH (on donated frequent flier miles) just to shake the hand of the remarkable founder of Rolling Thunder, Artie Muller, meet this incredible group, and tell more about Veterans Matter, the nation-wide movement to house homeless veterans. And of course, add to the laughter and cheer. He talked about how Veterans Matter seeks the ideal, saying, “The ideal would be to house homeless Veterans instantaneously; instead, we still need one minute to confirm the required deposit to the landlord who then hands over the keys. Not ‘ideal’, but extremely close.” The whole room chuckled in acknowledgement.

Following the meeting we were invited to stay and join in their holiday Christmas Dinner. The spread was vast and delicious! While joining in the festivities we had many members walk up with great ideas to help our cause, as well as many words of encouragement about the great work Veterans Matter is doing and coming from this group of super stars – those compliments really meant a lot.

We talked and mingled. Our team of four also included Cameron Kaufman and Doug Harts, who are members of the Veterans Matter – Mid-Atlantic  Board of Directors, also drove up from Northern Virginia to offer their support, engage with members and answer any questions during the discussions pre- and post-meeting.

There are many great veteran-supporting organizations out there. We as organizations that help veterans must know those who labor among us and partner, collaborate, and find the synergies that allow us to bring more impact to our organizations’ missions and veterans who need our support.

~ To those organizations that labor among us, I salute you. Happy New Year! ~

— Ki Magee, Board of Directors, Veterans Matter – Mid-Atlantic
Sunday, December 21, 2014; 9:53 p.m.

 

500thVetHousedVeterans Matter, a program created to house homeless veterans and backed by 20 celebrities including Katy Perry, ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, John Mellencamp, Susan Sarandon, Kid Rock and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, reaches a milestone this Veteran’s Day, housing its 500th homeless veteran and their family.

Established in 2012, Veterans Matter has produced significant, immediately visible results in six states across the country thanks to efficient operations, low overhead and laser focus.

The program partners directly with a voucher-assisted housing program created by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides homeless veterans long term housing. Because homeless veterans typically do not have the funds for initial required rental deposits, Veterans Matter bridges the gap by raising money and routing it directly to a ready veteran’s landlord. The innovative program uses an online cloud-based system providing for deposit approvals in minutes with deposit checks sent directly to the landlord that same day. This efficiency allows the program to keep costs extremely low with only 17% going to administrative expenses — the rest goes directly to the deposits that help veterans get off the streets and cross the threshold into their own warm homes.

“I created this program to house 35 veterans in Toledo, Ohio. Once Dusty Hill heard about it, he and his wife started a Houston group with several compassionate business leaders there and they’ve already housed 258 Texas veterans. It started scaling from there,” says Ken Leslie, the program’s founder who had been homeless earlier in his life. “I figured if we keep it fast, efficient and focused, most of the money could actually help veterans and their families replace sidewalks with pillows.”

The program has housed veterans and their families, including over 200 children, in Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Indiana, Massachusetts and Washington, with a new Mid-Atlantic chapter starting to raise the funds to house homeless veterans in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Leslie credits the growth to the celebrity supporters who are lending their voices and raising funds and a generous biannual radio campaign donated by Cumulus Media and other radio properties spanning 50 states. In the public service announcements, notables call on Americans to help the cause by texting ‘VETS’ to 41444 and donating any amount. Funds immediately and directly go to provide a veterans with rental deposits, putting them in their own home quickly and safely. To see the list of celebrities who have pitched in and view their videos visitveteransmatter.org/broadcast.

Veterans Matter raises only enough money to account for the number of housing vouchers available in a given area of operation and then moves onto the next region of need. For more information, visit VeteransMatter.org or Facebook.com/VeteransMatter.

Veterans Matter is a program of the John Mellencamp sparked and supported non-profit 1Matters.org, which was founded by Leslie in 2007. Homeless before kicking drugs and alcohol in 1990, Leslie is now the CEO of a small executive search firm for the technology industry.

 

It’s a little after six on an unusually balmy October 24th in Toledo, Ohio. Music is blaring, pumping up the crowd I am part of as we mill about along the Maumee River in Promenade Park. We are waiting for the beginning of the end…

Founder Ken Leslie talks to the crowd just before the walk begins.

Founder Ken Leslie talks to the crowd just before the walk begins.

Nearly three hundred strong, this throng is ready to Walk to End Veteran Homelessness, and that’s before 1Matters.org and Veterans Matter founder Ken Leslie takes the mic to thank everyone, give out awards, introduce people, talk about why we’re gathered. Though we already know why, it’s still moving to hear about the 475+ veterans, their spouses and their nearly 200 children —  almost 750 people total —  now off the streets and out of shelters and into safe, permanent housing. Those incredible numbers mean individual lives saved from homelessness, and hearing about that progress in just 2.5 years of operating never gets old. It just gets better, and bigger.

Dozens of blue shirts with red and white print are covering these walkers, and on the backs —  at the very top —  are names in black Sharpie, the names of veterans of whom these people will be walking in their honor…or memory. On Ken’s back is veteran and Ohio State Representative Teresa Fedor, herself walking in her own T-shirt…and heels!

I am not walking in anyone’s name. I guess I am walking for all the unhoused vets we have yet to meet and to house. The living Unknown Soldiers who need us to walk —  and fight —  for them.

Recognition given and excitement of purpose amped up, it’s time to walk. I fall in with various friends, chatting people up as we move along. There are pockets of bystanders who cheer us on, along with the cops watching over things at every intersection. The mile goes fast as we walk toward Tent City, a “human awareness project” that has served the unhoused and marginally-housed of Toledo for 25 years. Though we walk toward tents and charity and stories of pain and loneliness and need, the mood is festive because we know what else we’re walking towards: Hope. Family. Faith. Friends, new and old. And we’re walking towards an end to homelessness, for veterans and more.

When we get there, we are greeted again with music, and though the walk is done, the movement isn’t. Dancing erupts in the streets as the DJ plays the Cupid Shuffle, then the Cha-Cha Slide, followed by Wobble… but then someone requests M.C. Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This, and a flash mob forms (see below).

By the end of the night, this crowd has raised almost $15,000 by walking to end veteran homelessness. And, while we walked into a Tent City that would be gone in 48 hours time, we all walked home, too —  for ourselves and others. What an incredible night.

 

Oscar-winning actress and activist Susan Sarandon has joined an impressive roster of celebrities using their influence to raise money and momentum for Veterans Matter, a program which partners with the VA and HUD to help house the 57,000 U.S. veteran men and women who are homeless in our country.

“This is personal to me; I want to help Veterans Matter because it is so important that we work to help house the heroes on our streets,” Sarandon told Veterans Matter founder Ken Leslie during a taping last week at WABC in New York.

To date, Veterans Mater has helped house 475 veterans and veteran families in six states. With 9000 new housing vouchers released this month by HUD and the VA, the group has begun fundraising to help house at least 1000 of those veterans nationwide.

Ever since the Obama Administration announced “Opening Doors,” the national strategic plan to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and all homelessness in America by 2020, veteran homelessness has been reduced 33%.

“Great national effort is being focused on housing our heroes by the end of this year,” said Leslie. “Veterans Matter is simply an avenue for us regular Americans who care about our veterans and veteran families with children to replace the concrete with a pillow under the heads of who gave so much. This is why so many celebrities like Susan are joining our efforts.”

So far eighteen celebrities including Kid Rock, Ice-T, Heart, Kix Brooks and others will be featured in nationally broadcast Veterans Matter PSA’s on Cumulus Media and other radio markets during November to support “Veterans Day” on November 11th.

In a broadcast campaign airing in November with Cumulus Media and other radio properties, Sarandon will encourage people to donate any amount by visiting VeteransMatter.org or texting VETS to 41444. 100% of the funds raised go directly to the housing of veterans.

Sarandon, who also co-produced with Thomas Morgan the homelessness documentary Storied Streets, which her son Jack Henry Robbins directed, will stream nationally November 16th as part of a national awareness campaign for the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Veterans Matter, a national program of the John Mellencamp-sparked and supported nonprofit 1Matters, was started by founder Ken Leslie after learning that the biggest obstacle facing many homeless veterans eligible for long-term housing assistance was the lack of a rental deposit. Partnering with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veteran Affairs (VA), Veterans Matter specifically provides those rental deposits for homeless veterans who qualify for long-term voucher-assisted living but are unable fund the initial housing costs.

With the outpouring of celebrity support and the backing of Cumulus Media, Veterans Matter has high hopes of marshaling the support to help house 1,000 more veterans over the next 12 months.

Visit VeteransMatter.org and Facebook.com/VeteransMatter for more information and to join the campaign. For videos with the participating artists visit youtube.com/veteransmatter.

 
eagles-with-baby-and-nest

Eagles in nest with baby. Photo: Unknown.

HUD-VASH just officially announced it would release 9,000 new vouchers for the 2015 program, meaning that fundraising for those areas is ready to go.

If you’re a supporter of Veterans Matter, you’ve probably read something like this before. You might be wondering, “is the money I donate now not going to house a vet until 2015?!”

Have no fear! If you donate now, the money you give will go directly toward a vet who’s in need at this very moment.

Every year, HUD-VASH releases a new number of vouchers based on their fiscal year budget and the evaluated need of each region, but the vouchers from the previous year are carried over to the next year. So new vouchers for this coming year mean more opportunities to raise money and support our homeless veterans.

But how exactly does the HUD-VASH program work?

Let’s start from the beginning.

The HUD-VASH program was started in 1992 as a joint effort between the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). By joining forces, the program is able to utilize housing vouchers provided by the HUD in conjunction with VA-funded, veteran-exclusive services, such as health care, counseling, and case management. The VA also sits on the Interagency Council to End Homelessness, a federal agency dedicated to ending homelessness by 2015. Together, these efforts have been combined to help provide not only housing to homeless veterans, but personal assistance in regaining the skills and stability to retain domestic autonomy. Vets work directly with a case manager once housed to assess physical/mental needs and to create a housing stabilization plan, which is an integral part of the vet’s journey to re-acclimation.

Every year the program releases around 10,000 new vouchers based on the fiscal year budget and confirmed need. These vouchers essentially guarantee eligible veterans long-term housing, empowering them to not only leave the cycle of poverty, but break it too.

The one thing that is missing, however, is the initial rental deposit most landlords require before move-in. The HUD-VASH program’s budget doesn’t cover these deposits. That means veterans often have to utilize a number of different federal and local resources, patching together funds to cover the deposit. Seeking these resources requires time and energy, and often prolongs the amount of time any homeless veteran spends on the street.

This is where Veterans Matter comes in. Ken Leslie saw a gap, and realized there was a simple solution: raise money and work directly with HUD-VASH to efficiently route funds to the next vet ready to be housed. No waiting, no worrying about when they can spend a night in their own home.

An efficient, cloud-based system was then created for routing funds quickly enough to house a vet the same day. But Veterans Matter only works to house homeless vets where vouchers are available. Once we’ve funded the number of vouchers in one area, we move onto the next one.

So this 2015 release of vouchers means Veterans Matter has a lot of work to do in the coming year. Join us in helping bridge the gap from homelessness to domestic autonomy. Veterans matter, and we must take care of our own.

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