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Where are they?
N.H. on track to house the rest of its homeless veterans

02/11/16
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



 Five years ago, when a federal program was first launched in an effort to provide permanent housing for all homeless veterans, New Hampshire had an estimated 500 homeless veterans. Now, it’s believed that number has gone down to less than 60 — but service providers need the public’s help in finding them.

Harbor Homes CEO Peter Kelleher says significant process has been made at housing veterans nationwide.
“I’ve been working at this for about 11 years, and when we first started there were over 200,000 veterans that were estimated to be homeless in the United States,” Kelleher said.
Now, he says there’s an estimated 47,000. 
Through conference calls with other service providers facilitated by the governor’s office, he’s seen progress in reducing the number of veterans in emergency shelters in New Hampshire in just the past few months.
“When we started those calls, roughly 16 weeks ago, we had 37 veterans in 10 emergency shelters across the state, and right now we have about 18,” Kelleher said. “In terms of unsheltered veterans, we think there are still about 30 to 40 on a statewide basis.”
Some of the homeless vets can be found in the Seacoast area, but Kelleher says most are localized along the western part of the state from the southern border to north of Claremont.
He thinks one of the three major sectors (divided into continuums of care for federal funds distribution) may have already reached the goal of “functional zero.”
“In the Greater Nashua continuum of care I think we are very close, if not already there, in terms of having achieved it,” Kelleher said. “And the other parts of the state are getting there.”
He says functional zero was a goal set by the federal government that includes five criteria. 
First, communities must identify homeless veterans. 
Second, they must create a plan and timeline for permanent housing. Then the communities must provide the housing, and it must take priority before other supportive services. 
Then, a robust system of rapid housing must be put in place, and finally a system of preventing veteran homelessness must also work to catch those at risk of becoming homeless early on. 
Harbor Homes is looking for the citizens of the state to help with the very first step: identifying homeless veterans.
“We need any citizen that may know of a homeless veteran or may in fact be a homeless veteran or a veteran at risk of becoming homeless to really get in touch with our SSVF programs,” Kelleher said.
SSVF stands for Supportive Services for Veterans and Families, which includes case management, cash assistance and immediate transitional housing with a pathway to permanent housing.
If you are a homeless veteran or know a homeless veteran, the number to call is 1-800-273-8255. Or you can email SSVF@nhpartnership.com. 





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