In his keynote address to the Statewide Homeless Awareness Conference 2010, Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie said his administration would give nonprofits the ability to provide more services to veterans.
“The future opportunity is to allow nonprofit organizations to provide case management and support services for veterans and their families from becoming homeless while remaining in or transitioning into permanent housing,” Abercrombie said at the Pacific Beach Hotel Nov. 16.
But if his goal is to allow nonprofits to provide services to vets to keep them and their families from becoming homeless while in transitional housing, does that mean they currently aren’t?
Lauriann Broad, the coordinator for the Veterans Association Grant and Per Diem program at Barbers Point, doesn’t think so.
Broad works with U.S. Vets, a nonprofit organization associated with the VA that provides “comprehensive services, such as case management, employment assistance, job placement and counseling while providing drug and alcohol free housing,” according to its website.
The shelter runs on a budget of approximately $1 million per year and currently houses 94 veteran residents. It has a total capacity of 98.
U.S. Vets is the only nonprofit in Honolulu that focuses specifically on veterans. But Broad says that other shelters that target homelessness in general also offer housing for vets.
Broad was not aware of any restrictions that state or local governments would apply to prevent a nonprofit from offering services or case management for veterans.
U.S. Vets does not offer shelter for families but there are several other organizations around the state that do.
One such example is the Hope for a New Beginning Shelter located in Waianae. A program specialist with the facility, Tanya Tehotu, told Civil Beat that the organization provides transitional housing for 31 families and has a total of 158 residents.
Three of the families had a member that is a veteran.
The shelter provides housing for free for up to eight months, working with residents to secure jobs and permanent housing.
She listed at least 10 other similar organizations that offer housing for families, which would include veterans.
In Abercrombie’s defense, he may have been referring to veteran-specific organizations that offer housing to families as well as individuals. But the point is that while the government is often the primary source of funding – and can be a great ally for a nonprofit – there doesn’t appear to be any need to “allow” an organization to offer services.
They can. And they are.
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