Nearly 50 people gathered in Lexington's Veterans Park to celebrate what has been a long time coming - Effectively Ending Veteran Homelessness.
"Today's announcement means we are ready to help any homeless or at-risk veteran known to us," said Mayor Linda Gorton. "It means so much to know that we are helping find homes for men and women who have given so much to our country."
"Life kind of put me back on the streets, and I turned to HUD for their help. They got me into transitional housing quickly," said Navy Veteran Gerald Tubbs, Jr. Tubbs was living on park benches for six months. He said that the program created in Lexington has restored his dignity.
"We want to congratulate and thank Lexington-Urban County Government and their partners. It took extraordinary leadership on their part to make this momentous achievement a reality on behalf of these veterans and it speaks to what can be achieved when everyone works together," said Christopher Taylor, HUD Deputy Regional Administrator for Region IV.
Polly Ruddick, Director of Lexington's Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention said that in 2014, when then Mayor Jim Gray started the initiative, there were 203 homeless veterans with 21 living on the streets. Now, there are only 78 veterans in emergency shelters and transitional housing, but none living on the streets.
On March 21, 2019, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), HUD, and VA verified and affirmed that Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government has created a system and infrastructure to make veteran homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. This recognition does not mean that no veteran will ever become homeless in Lexington; however, when it does happen, they will get the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home.
Keys to success include:
- Lexington Housing Authority set a veteran's preference for all Housing Choice Vouchers, with an additional 75 VET vouchers.
- Permanent housing and services investment from HUD of $1,690,069 annually
- Housing and services investment from the VA of $3,590,135 annually
- Strong coordination between all partners and stakeholders
- Strengthened efforts to identify and match housing and services for veterans
- Improved data collection and quality
- Housing First model programs
This announcement comes after four years of unprecedented collaboration among key partners: Lexington VA Medical Center, former Director Emma Metcalfe and Homeless Programs Office Director Stephanie Gibson; Lexington Housing Authority, Director Austin Simms; Volunteers of America Mid-States, Program Director Anne Vandervort; Saint James Place, Executive Director Phil Gray; the Hope Center, Executive Director Cecil Dunn and Program Director David Shad; The Salvation Army, Major Thomas Hinzman; Community Action Council Action Council and Program Manager Marty Jones; Homeless Prevention and Intervention Board and members of the Every Veteran Housed Committee.