North Hudson Community Action Corporation awarded $664,751 by US Department of Veterans Affairs to assist homeless and at-risk vets

For immediate release 7/12/13
Joan Quigley 201 210-0100

North Hudson Community Action Corporation awarded $664,751 by US Department of Veterans Affairs to assist homeless and at-risk vets

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced awards of nearly $300 million to help approximately 120,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. The grant to North Hudson Community Action Corporation is expected to assist approximately 191 participant households in Hudson and Bergen Counties.

All in all, there were 319 grants given to community programs across the country. In New Jersey funds were also allocated for Catholic Charities in Camden, Community Hope in Parsippany, and Volunteers of America in Collingswood.

Joseph Muniz, Board Chair of NHCAC, said the grant will permit the expansion of current services and the start of new ones targeted exclusively to veterans. He noted NHCAC was already providing transitional housing, emergency shelter grants, homeless prevention assistance, and short-term motel shelter in times of emergency. Those services began in 1995 with a small grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and grew as the needs in the community grew.

According to Shinseki the newest grant is designed to help very low-income veteran families living in or transitioning to permanent housing, to prevent them from becoming homeless and helping them find new housing quickly whenever necessary.

Rosemary Lavagnino, Director of Community Action Programs for NHCAC, pointed out the organization also helps area residents with other social problems and health needs at 22 locations in Hudson, Bergen and Passaic counties. Job training and placement programs, case management, credit repair, financial literacy workshops, tenant advocacy and other services will be offered to newly enrolled veterans, as well.

She estimated 17,131 veterans currently reside in Hudson County and an estimated 1,625 have incomes below the federal poverty level. When Hudson County held its annual count of homeless persons in 2012, they found 45 veterans without permanent shelter and that a third of those had been evicted from their homes.

High housing costs and few local job opportunities made their problems worse, so the grant will be used not only to find shelter for veterans but also to help them get back on their feet.

A percentage of the grant will be devoted to outreach efforts. Recruiters will be sent to shelters and places where homeless persons congregate, as well as to job fairs and training sites, to encourage at-risk veterans to apply for assistance. Lavagnino expects the central office for applications will be located in Union City with smaller sites in Guttenberg and Hackensack. A hotline number will be announced so veterans can book appointments for eligibility screening as soon as possible.

Muniz said he is pleased the Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges the need for wider services here in Hudson and he is especially pleased they realized NHCAC is the organization with a track record of success.