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Rep. Beto O'Rourke talks about the plight of homeless veterans at HACEP news conference Monday

HACEP’s Efforts to Eradicate Veteran Homelessness gets Boost

Coming in on the heels of President Barack Obama’s recent announcement of a 50 percent drop in veteran homelessness, the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) expands its efforts to eradicate this issue locally.

U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser and Acting Director of the El Paso Veteran Affairs Health Care System Lenore S. Enzel all joined HACEP at a press conference Moday to officially announce the award of 13 additional U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers to continue Presidents Obama’s efforts in eradicating veteran homelessness.

“For nearly 80 years HACEP has served the El Paso and veteran community, providing these families the opportunity to build better lives,” shares HACEP CEO Gerald Cichon. “It is our honor to serve them as proudly as they have served our country as we work to end veteran homelessness.”

The HUD-VASH Voucher Program is part of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program made specifically for homeless veterans. A HUD-VASH voucher recipient also receives case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Since 2008, the HUD-VASH vouchers have been awarded to public housing agencies (PHAs) based on both geographic need and administrative performance, as well as performance data and collaborative efforts between PHAs and VA medical centers.

“Homeless veterans are exposed to various health issues throughout their lives … that get worse because they lack the basic necessities that includes having a roof over one’s head,” states El Paso VA Health Care Acting Director Lenore S. Enzel. “HUD-VASH enrolls the largest percentage of veterans who experienced long term or repeated homelessness.

Since 2008 we have extended helping hands to our veteran clients connecting them to healthcare benefits, mental health, employment support services to them get their lives back on track.”

The joint effort between El Paso’s VA and HACEP has resulted in 239 voucher awards since 2008, totaling to more than $10MIL brought to El Paso to specifically end veteran homelessness.

The announcement included word from John Rhodes, a veteran from the U.S. Navy, who became a HACEP HUD-VASH recipient in 2012 and will now become an official graduate from HACEP’s Homeownership Program when he closes on his home this upcoming September.

“Home is where you have a key and you can let yourself in, which is something that a lot of homeless veterans haven’t had that experience,” states John Rhodes. “I’ve been enrolled in the [HUD-VASH] program for approximately five years now and recently I took the next step on closing on my home. What this enables me to do is become a more active participant of our community.”

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