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Homeless veterans task force starts work in Chattanooga

June 7th, 2014by Joy Lukachick Smithin Local Regional NewsRead Time: 1 min.

Andy Berke

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

For the next year, a group of veterans, community leaders, city employees and service providers will study how to find funds and housing for Chattanooga veterans who are continuously homeless.

Local officials estimate there are about 150 homeless veterans in the Scenic City and about 20 percent are chronically homeless -- meaning continuously for 12 months or four times within a three-year time frame.

Mayor Andy Berke pledged this year to end chronic veteran homelessness by 2016. And this week he met with representatives of the Obama administration as they unveiled a federal program to help cities across the nation do the same. So far Chattanooga is the only city in the state to make the pledge.

How the city will accomplish the task is yet to be determined.

The task force Berke handpicked met briefly for the first time Friday afternoon, and its members were charged with studying resources for funding and housing, researching the city's history on the problem and available health resources.

Beth Washburn, a social worker with the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, said Chattanooga started a local program with the Chattanooga Homeless Coalition in 2010 that began with 35 vouchers for homeless veterans and has grown to 50.

Workers identify the homeless veterans in the city at the local shelter and case workers help them get public vouchers for housing expenses and then monitor them to get social services, Washburn said.

Berke said those public vouchers are one of the main tools the city has, in addition to bringing together the various groups that already find solutions to this problem.

"My job is to get everybody together and then see your incredible work," Berke told the group on Friday.

Pat Townley, a veteran who works at a Flintstone, Ga., horse ranch that does therapy for veterans, said that realistically the city can't stop every veteran from ending up homeless. But through an organized effort from the community, the city can curb veterans who end up back on the street again and again, he said.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 423-757-6659.

Homelessness in Chattanooga
According to information gathered for the City’s Blueprint to End Chronic Homelessness, more than 4,094 individuals experience homelessness each year in Chattanooga, with over 1,000 homeless children in public schools.  Each night, an estimated 500-600 individuals sleep outside or in shelters, with nearly 200 of them in families. Chattanooga reflects national trends when it comes to the rise in homelessness among families.  Over the last several years, the number of homeless families has increased nearly 300%.

Each year, we participate in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Point In Time Count, which counts the number of homeless individuals on a given night in cities across America. It counts individuals living in shelters and on the street. The 2015 count found that 635 people were homeless in our area.

ANAND-MARTIN FOUNDATION COMMITMENT TO VETERANS

The Foundation exists to serve homeless and displaced Veterans and low-income residents of Chattanooga. Mrs. Cathy Martin Anand's family has a deep-rooted history in the tapestry of American patriotism. Mrs. Anand's father and grandfather were both decorated veterans. Mrs. Anand had ancestors who were veterans on both sides of the Civil War conflict.


Mrs. Anand's grandfather, William T. Martin, was a soldier in the Confederate army; her other grandfather was James Leonard Henson, who served in the Union army.

Mrs. Anand's father, D.C.Martin was a veteran of World War II who served in the 101st Infantry Rainbow division in France and Germany. Officer Martin was also a POW for a year who was liberated when the war ended.

These family events served as a huge inspiration for her desire to be involved in the interest of those needing help and assistance.

 


The Anand-Martin Foundation takes three approaches to serving veterans:

  1. Participate in the VA and city programs to place low-income and homeless veterans into housing. 
  2. Employ veterans in the Foundation house renovation efforts and in its property maintenance efforts
  3. Provide veterans in need with information concerning services and programs available to them - Chattanooga, Tennessee, and through the VA. Provice these veterans with assitance in finding the right city, state, or federal program to meet their ongoing needs.

 

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