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White House: Syracuse has ended homelessness among Veterans

Ellen Abbott

Syracuse will get a nod from the White House on Wednesday. Syracuse is one of three new cities added to a list of cities that have ended Veteran homelessness. Las Vegas and Schenectady join 10 other cities that have eliminated Veteran homelessness. Syracuse’s Veterans Administration Medical Center points to two developments that are helping.

A program called HUD-VASH has been successful in finding housing for homeless veterans in part because it doesn’t expect vets to conquer all of their issues before finding a place to live.

Bethany Stewart has been working with homeless vets for years at the Syracuse VA. She says this program, a joint effort between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and VA Supported Housing (VASH), creates a housing first approach.

"The old model is really where somebody had to be housing ready,” Stewart says. “So that would mean you look at somebody. They’re taking their medications, they’re getting their mental health therapy, their getting their substance abuse treatment, they’re really motivated, and they’re really willing to work. And the problem with that is, you’re leaving out the most vulnerable of people."

Stewart says the veterans get vouchers from HUD that pays for Section 8 housing and then the VA jumps in to start case management.

The second development helping to keep vets off of the streets is the opening of VanKeuren Square in Syracuse, according to Stewart. The Housing Visions project on East Genesee Street offers 50 apartments for homeless veterans and includes on-site support services from the VA.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.