ORLANDO, Fla. — Local programs are being recognized for their success in finding shelter for homeless veterans. National leaders are praising their efforts.
But there’s more work to do.
The United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Bob McDonald, got some tips from the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.
“It lets me know life is going forward in a positive manner,” said David Williams, a veteran who was homeless for 14 years before living in an apartment. Williams spoke in front of McDonald on Thursday.
“The good news is that, nationally, we’ve reduced veteran homelessness by 47 percent since 2010,” McDonald said.
McDonald calls Central Florida a model for other cities. There are fewer than 200 local veterans without a home.
“That’s why I’m here. I go around and try to find best practices that I can, then pick up and take to other locations,” McDonald said.
Chronic homelessness, meaning veterans with a disability who were homeless for multiple years, has ended in Central Florida. The focus has now shifted to those living in shelters without health care, or other benefits.
“I still see the homeless community. I still see homeless veterans, I reach out to them. I give them my number. I follow up on them, that’s what I’m supposed to do,” Williams said.
McDonald said the next step will be to look for more family-focused programs and job placement programs for veterans struggling with homelessness.