John Scott was at a job fair when he was shaken by an encounter with a fellow veteran from his Marine Corps unit. The young man had served under Scott when he was an Artillery Section Chief in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, with a master’s degree in social work, Scott works in veteran services.
“I just couldn’t believe how rapidly he’d gone down from when I knew him as a strong, proud Marine,” said John, recalling the disheveled man in search of a job and a place to live. He had lost his wife and the support of his family
“Who are these veterans we see on our streets?” Scott added. “They are your brothers, your sisters, your classmates.”
Currently executive director for U.S. VETS, Phoenix, Scott participated in a United Way discussion on ending veteran homelessness in the Valley. The panelists explained how “Housing First,” a permanent supportive housing model, gives people experiencing chronic homelessness a safe place to live while providing needed support services to restore them to health and financial independence.
Adopting this model helped Phoenix be the first U.S. city to end homelessness among the veteran population; a key milestone toward United Way’s goal of reducing homelessness in Maricopa County by 75 percent by 2020.
Scott was joined by Anthony Love, Senior Vice President of the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans; Amy Schwabenlender, Vice President of Community Impact at Valley of the Sun United Way; and Brad Bridwell from Cantwell Anderson Cloudbreak Communities.
“The worst thing would be to place people in housing and not have the funding there to support them for the long term,” said Schwabenlender. “It’s meant to be permanent, for as long as they need it.”
Bridwell, instrumental in developing Phoenix’ first permanent supportive housing community at Encanto Pointe, shared statistics of how the model impacted residents in its first six months:
With our partners, United Way is working to develop 1,000 permanent supportive housing units. Additionally, we are building a $15 million endowment to ensure the ongoing funding needed to end all chronic homelessness our community.
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