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The mission statement of the Veterans and Community Housing Coalition is as follows:
To provide housing and support services to all homeless military veterans and their families
To advocate on behalf of all military veterans and their families
To provide housing opportunities for low income households
speaker: Cheryl Hague-Perez, Executive Director
Cheryl began by telling us, “The fastest growing segment of homeless veterans is women. At The Guardian House, the only program in New York for female
veterans, we provide transitional housing and support services to homeless female Veterans with children. The Veterans Administration provides neither payments nor facilities to accommodate this growing population. (italics – editor)
“When Americans are asked to picture a homeless veteran they seldom think of a woman, and even more rarely, a single Veteran Mom with young children. A woman Veteran with children who is homeless faces the fear and threat that youth protective services may assess her situation as dangerous and take her children from her. These Moms will either not receive the help and support needed, or possibly lose custody of their children. Either way, these patriotic, brave women who wore the uniform of our Armed Services, and their children, lose. Until now, no program has been available to serve single moms with kids, because available programs will not accept kids.”
This year the proceeds from the Veterans Ball* will be used to kick off a campaign to build Foreverly House, a two family home on 4 1⁄2 acres for our Veteran Moms and their children while they make the transition from military to civilian life. This will be a place for Veteran Moms and their children to call home. It is not paid for by the VA. It is completely paid for by donations.
VCHC operates 2 houses here, has 22 full time staff, 24 additional on call.
In addition, VCHC helps by having 16 “housing units” available, completely paid for. VCHC provides job training, including help practicing job interview skills. For vets who have been evicted or face threat of eviction, they provide temporary financial aid. VCHC has recently purchased property in need of renovation. With help from a Saratoga Springs architect working pro pro bono, they are partnering with a for profit developer to create 24 new units of housing. It will become available at 50% of average market cost to vets.
Volunteers collect household items – furniture, kitchen ware, bikes etcGift cards at holiday times are welcome so the vets can buy gifts for family.
The deployments these veterans have served are not the deployments of their fathers, and they have returned changed, with greater physical and mental problems. VCHC helps with family reunification and even temporary child care.
There are 50,000 homeless veterans in our country. 400 vets are in our area.
Currently VCHC serves 21 in our immediate community.
Thanks to the program chair for bringing this remarkable and important program to the club.