COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — 40,000 veterans have no place to call home on a daily basis and even though progress has been made in decreasing the homeless population there is still work to be done.
The VA Homeless Program along with Transitions Homeless Shelter held an event aimed at putting homeless veterans in their own homes. The event also helped connect non-veterans to resources that would help change their lives.
One Transitions’ resident explained how he needs the shelter while trying to get on his feet. “I didn’t come here to be homeless I came here to get better.. because here you only have a certain amount of days to stay here before you have to go so if I leave here, where I’m going to go. Nowhere because I don’t nowhere to go,” said Eric Keith from Hartford, CT.
Keith is not alone. That same scenario is the struggle hundreds of South Carolinians face daily. The coordinator of the VA Homeless program added that for veterans finding permanent housing can be even tougher.
“There’s a lot of reasons and most of them narrow down to substance abuse issues, mental issues, the after-effects of having been through combat witnessing things that they haven’t been able to process,” said Sherry Martell.
That’s why events like the StandDown for Homeless Veterans is so important. It helps the homeless get back on the right track.
“Hopefully it can help me get a better change, make me get my own castle one day, and it will go the way it’s supposed to go. I left Hartford to try and make a better life,” said Eric Keith.
Since last year the organization has been able to decrease the homeless veteran population in Columbia from 150 veterans to 60
“We have 125 transitional housing beds to get them immediately off the streets and into transitional housing. we give them the housing choice voucher with VA case management which helps them stay in that house once we get them a permanent house,” added Martell.