TOLEDO, OH, May 20, 2014 – Grammy winning recording artist, actor and filmmaker Ice-T has adds his efforts to the growing roster of notables helping the Ohio-based nonprofit program Veterans Matter to house many of the over 57,000 veterans living on the streets and in shelters.
Ice-T’s public service announcements begin airing nationally today on Cumulus Media radio and digital properties, joining musicians Kid Rock, Kix Brooks, John Mellencamp, Darius Rucker, Darryl Worley, Stevie Nicks, Dusty Hill, Emerson Drive, Jennifer Nettles, Natalie Stovall and The Drive, and author Mitch Albom in the effort.
“Thousands of veterans are homeless and living veterans on the streets of our nation tonight. Streets where they are being beaten, robbed, even killed. Let’s take care of our own.” said Ice-T of the Veterans Matter campaign to house veterans.
Veterans Matter, a national program of 1Matters, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, was started in 2012 in Toledo, Ohio, by Ken Leslie, himself a formerly homeless alcoholic. He became aware that the primary obstacle facing many homeless veterans eligible for long-term housing assistance was the lack of an average $750 rental deposit, which is not covered by the HUD-VASH voucher assistance program. He created the Veterans Matter program to pay that deposit directly to the landlord and join the national effort to house all homeless veterans by the end of 2015.
“We had one veteran in Texas who had been in a shelter for 4 years, ever since Hurricane Ike hit. She has issues that make working and staying focused difficult. HUD-VASH and Veterans Matter were able to get her a pillow under her head in her own bed, in her own room, in her own house,” explains Leslie. “Multiply her story by a thousand more veterans and you see why we are working so hard. We can and must take care of our own.”
The effort to house homeless veterans has the national support of broadcast heavyweight Cumulus Media, where a campaign of public service announcements by the aforementioned artists encourage Americans to send donations of any amount to Veterans Matter by texting “VETS” to 41444.
“Cumulus, the artists, and all of those involved with Veterans Matter, are examples of how we, as Americans, are just pitching in to do one small part to help house even one more veteran,” says Leslie.
Veterans Matter partners with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veteran Affairs (VA) to provide rental deposits to homeless veterans that qualify for voucher-assisted living but can’t fund the initial housing costs. According to Leslie, some of the artists have even anchored fundraising in their home states, helping to raise a good share of the almost $250,000 raised so far. 100% of the money raised goes to the program, as overhead costs are donated in-kind.
Leslie cites a recent email received from a VA social worker that underscores the worth of the efforts that are uniting Ice-T, his fellow supporting artists, along with Cumulus and other Americans in the campaign:
“When I told the veteran this has happened and he received his key to the apartment he became tearful and said, “I have been homeless for several years and thought this would never happen, ever.” Later I dropped him off at the library. He called about 20 minutes later and said, “I just realized that I have a key to my own place, I know where I am going to be sleeping tonight. It is like the stress of the last several years has been lifted off my shoulders at once. Thank you so much for helping me.” This IS why we do what we do. You and Veterans Matter are such a huge part of this and I thank you so much!” – Larry S., VA social worker, Bloomington, Indiana.
Summing up the campaign, Ice-T says, “They fought for us. Now we fight for them. Veterans Matter.”