In a continuing effort to prevent and end veteran homelessness in Connecticut, the Department of Housing announced its allocation of an additional 50 Rental Assistance Program (RAP) certificates for exclusive veteran use, bringing the total state investment in vouchers to 100. These vouchers are available to any and all Latino veterans and are a part of Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s goal of ending veteran homelessness in Connecticut by the end of 2015.
These new RAPs provide housing assistance only and are available to all veterans regardless of ethnicity or if they have been dishonorably discharged — differing from the federal program in this way. Under the effort there is no tracking of ethnicity, as it is inconsequential. The program has been established to help all homeless veterans. Commissioner Evonne M. Klein encourages all Latino veterans to reach back.
While the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) is not tracking how many Latinos are currently benefiting from the effort, recent surveys show that Latino veterans make up 4 percent of the nearly 218,000 veterans in the state of Connecticut. This means that there are approximately 9,000 Latino veterans who could possibly qualify for these new RAPs.
These new RAPs also differ from the prior 50 RAPs, as they do not provide support services. They function solely for rental assistance, for those who can otherwise support themselves.
Commissioner Klein says, “These additional RAP certificates are necessary for us to continue the progress we’ve made with Connecticut’s historic efforts to end veteran homelessness. Not only are we working towards attaining functional zero, the number which will mark an end to chronic veteran homelessness in our state, but we are also ensuring that those veterans we house will remain in permanent and stable housing.”
“Our shelter providers are engaged in heavy street outreach,” says Commissioner Klein, “reaching out to all homeless veterans and referring them to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) .”
President Barak Obama and his administration made the elimination of veteran homelessness a national priority in 2009. In a statement, President Obama pledged to not rest until “every veteran who fought for America has a home in America.”
Quickly heeding the Administration’s call, Connecticut was one of the first states to sign on to the mission to end veteran homelessness in the state by the end of 2015, and chronic homelessness by 2016. According to Commissioner Klein, Connecticut is the only state on track to meet this goal and says providers are working very hard in their outreach effort.
In January, Governor Malloy announced that the state had become one of only five states chosen to join the Zero: 2016 initiative – a national effort led by the nonprofit Community Solutions to combat homelessness.
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman believes that ending veteran homelessness in Connecticut by 2015 is viable and attributes the state’s accomplishment thus far to Governor Malloy’s leadership; strong partnerships between federal, state, and local government; and rapid response by advocates throughout the state.
The goal of ending homelessness among veterans and those who are chronically homeless is particularly viable in Connecticut. There are about 1000 Veterans and about 2400 chronically homeless people with disabilities in the state.
Governor Malloy says, “Every veteran in Connecticut deserves the opportunity to have a safe, comfortable home, and that’s why under my administration we are dramatically increasing the availability of affordable housing to unprecedented levels. We can reach our goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans – it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do.”