Our National Homeless Veterans Housing Program is the result of collaborative innovation integrating technology, housing, and the community; with the medical, mental, and employment services provided by the VA; that creates evidence-based results for our heroes in need: Returning them to domestic autonomy.
In other words, we bring people together to house as many homeless veterans as we can, as fast as we can in VA supported permanent housing, giving them a fresh start!

Frequently Asked Questions

This is usually the first thing I want to know. We have the ultimate in transparency – you can actually see the results daily on our website: How many vets housed, how many family members, how many children, and where they have been housed.
We use business and technology acumen and efficiency to create and execute non-profit programs with solid business plans, outcome metrics, and an accountability structure. We created Veterans Matter to be something WE would want to donate to, so admin costs are low (8% the past two years), AND we get the job done very quickly, and very efficiently.
Organizationally, Veterans Matter is a program of nonprofit 501(c)3 1Matters.org. In 2007, long before all of the different “matters” groups, we recognized the power each of us have. The Power of 1.

1Matters.org was founded in 2007 by Ken Leslie, sparked and supported by John Mellencamp and others in the music industry. 1Matters.org works to help all of those on the streets, not just veterans, obtain domestic autonomy. 1Matters focuses  always at the root systems solutions, then creates and funds the start up of the new programs to address systems issues.

We hold the highest rating on transparency with Guidestar and 1Matters is governed by a Board of Directors composed of five local and five national directors. Veterans Matter is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.  We are not large enough yet to be rated by Charity Navigator.
For your convenience, here are our 990 tax forms for the past four years.
Veterans Matter is simple; through our partnership with the VA homeless programs nationally, we identify veterans in need with nowhere else to go and essentially deliver your donation directly to the landlord to cover the deposit/first month’s rent which is the ONLY barrier preventing your homeless veteran from getting housed tonight!
This means every single dollar we deploy has a 100% success rate helping a homeless veteran get housed in a successful long-term VA housing program that has a 91% success rate keeping them housed.

We intentionally identify and help the veterans who need us most – those who have nowhere else to go.

We partner with the VA homeless program social workers who help the veterans find appropriate housing and secure their long term HUD VASH housing voucher. When the housing has been inspected and veteran is ready to sign the lease, if the veterans has nowhere else to find it, the VA social workers access our on-line system and complete the short referral form requesting the deposit, and hit send.

All conforming referrals are immediately approved and minutes later the social worker and landlord receive an email confirmation approving the deposit amount and the check is mailed the same business day.

You have now housed a veteran. That’s it. It really is that simple.

We get no government funding.

Amazingly, ALL of our funding comes from other Americans like you who just care about homeless veterans as much as we do, AND want to do something to help them.

We’ve assembled a National Collaborative Funding Network comprised of Veterans Groups, Corporations, Regular Americans, Foundations, Service Groups and  the Entertainment Industry, all working as one cohesive force to get vets housed.

As a formerly homeless alcoholic and addict, founder Ken Leslie lived on the streets. As a professional comedian he started seeing more people on the streets. When he learned 60% were children, he felt called to help.
In 1990 he turned his life around, founding a successful executive search firm which over the next two decades allowed him to become a philanthropist and create and fund programs to help the homeless in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio.     
On February 6, 2012 during street outreach with the VA, Shawn Dowling, coordinator with the local Healthcare for Homeless Veterans program, told Ken that a deposit was all that was preventing two of his local chronically homeless veteran friends from getting into the ready HUD-VASH housing, with 33 more vouchers for veterans in the pipeline. 
He asked what the veterans did when they did not have the deposits and she said some of the veterans went to the churches and VFW’s and begged for it.   
That broke Ken’s heart so that night he created Veterans Matter to simply eliminate that last barrier and push these veterans over the threshold into ready housing by covering that deposit paid straight to the landlord.   
The next morning Ken called Barb Petee, an executive at Promedica Health System, to find the $26,250 pilot funding to cover the vouchers from the Toledo Community Foundation’s Promedica Advocacy Fund.
Seven days later, on Valentines Day, 5:36 p.m., Barb called with full pilot funding. Three days later, the first waiting veteran family was housed out of a family shelter. 11 days from idea, to funding, to execution. Ken then went back to his executive search practice, writing checks to landlords as needed. 
During the taping of a public service announcement, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top asked Ken to expand the program to Houston, Texas – which Dusty would help fund. Ken provided some start up funding to create an online cloud-based system to allow veterans in Houston or any funded area of operation to be housed. To date that Texas group has raised over $500,000 and housed over 1,000 Texas veterans.
John Mellencamp did the same for Indiana. Mitch Albom, along with Katy Perry, Kid Rock, and First Nation Group made housing Michigan veterans possible, with continuing support. The Veterans Matter pilot program then grew and has been well-documented in the press

Hi there, if you are reading this far into the website it is because you are like me and the other regular Americans who simply care about veterans. We want to find ways to actually and truly help the veterans we need to help.

To be honest, I did not plan this, it just happened. I just know I was called to help. So I came when called. No big deal, millions of us do the same for causes we are called to.

But if you are one of those called to help veterans and know in your marrow that it is our job to help, our  job right now is to get the word out and raise as much as we can, as fast as we can, to house as many veterans as we can.

This site will give you all the tools to do that. Or, if you have other ideas, give me a call or email me – I want to hear them.

But I have to tell you, when we have Gold Star wives, veterans groups like the American Legions, Vietnam Veterans groups, VFW’s, hardened CEO’s and the like calling me in tears thanking us for starting this, then we realize again that our call to duty was just because Veterans Really Do Matter, and we must take care of our own. They deserve it.


Called To Service
Who We Serve
Where We Serve
How We Serve

Called To Service

Veterans Matter is an innovative cloud-based rapid-response system – partnered with the VA’s Homeless Veterans program (HUD/VASH) – which allows the homeless veteran to get housed in literally minutes rather than the 30 to 60 days normally required to obtain the deposit. Essentially your donation is used as a deposit paid directly to the landlord to allow the veteran or veteran family to cross the threshold into a warm place called home for a fresh start.

Who We Serve

We exclusively help currently homeless veterans and veteran families who qualify for the VA HUD/VASH housing voucher program; who have found a house or apartment, and are ready to cross the threshold into a home of their own and begin the rebuilding process. This gives your donation a 100% success rate housing veterans in a long-term housing program that has a 91% success rate keeping them housed.

Where We Serve

Veterans Matter operates in any area we have adequate funding and HUD/VASH housing vouchers are available. We currently operate in 16 states and Washington, DC. Learn more about each area of operation.

100% of the funds raised go to help house veterans locally, regionally, or nationally – wherever the greatest need is. In other words, anywhere there is a veteran waiting for a home tonight, we will be there!

How We Serve

When the VA social workers have helped the homeless veteran or veteran family find appropriate housing, they complete our short online referral form. All conforming referrals are immediately approved and an email is sent to the landlord confirming we are sending a check that same day. Because of the celebrity support many landlords allow the veteran to have the keys and immediately cross the threshold.

The Team

Shawn Clark

Shawn has been with Veterans Matter since 2014, hired in as the Program Coordinator, assisting the VA Caseworkers in getting our Heroes housed.  Due to the increased number of Veterans housed since then, another person was hired to assist with the referrals and Shawn was promoted to Director of Operations. Her new position assists our Founder with day-to-day operations, as well as supervising two of our newest employees. In the past 4 years, she has been involved in Tent City – a 3-day compassion event held in Toledo Ohio to provide services to those in our community who need it most. Shawn has also been a member of The Exchange Club of Toledo for 3 years, serving as President for the past 2 years. Shawn is also an Army Veteran.

Shannon Nowak

Shannon joined our staff in July 2018 also, taking over the referral process from Shawn.  She receives the referral from the VA Caseworkers, verifies the information, and processes the money to be sent to the landlord for the Veteran. Although she was not in the Service, many of her family has/is, and she feels a strong interest in people who are willing to sacrifice everything for their country. She learned in a few short months being here how great this need is for these homeless men and women.  Shannon has said she feels honored to be a part of an organization that is helping our fallen heroes, even though they may not even know who it is helping them — just knowing she is making a difference is what matters.

Nick McClellan

Nick joined our staff in November 2019 and is responsible for maintaining our online presence through the production of graphic, video, and written content. Nick is also employed as the Community Engagement Coordinator at Horizon Science Academy, a K-12 charter school in Toledo, Ohio. Ken was first introduced to Nick when he came to the office to drop off a check. The students at Horizon had raised enough money to house nearly two veterans and their families. Seeing Nick’s commitment to our heroes and the community and coupled with his digital media skills, Ken knew he would be a valuable member of the team in the fight to end veteran homelessness.


Contact Us

By Post:
Veterans Matter
c/o 1Matters.org
3450 W. Central Ave.
Suite 108
Toledo, OH 43606
By Phone:
Via Email: