May 20, 2008 – Homeless heroes are getting a second-helping of support in the Bronx.
The Jericho Project, a national group seeking permanent solutions to homelessness, recently purchased a second site in the borough to build another residence for homeless vets.
Jericho launched its Veterans Initiative late last year with the purchase of a vacant lot at 355 E. 194th St. in Fordham, and recently closed the deal on property in Kingsbridge Terrace.
Together, the two planned residences will offer permanent, supportive housing and comprehensive counseling to 130 homeless and low-income veterans.
“We intend for our Veterans Initiative to be scalable – and become a model for helping low-income and homeless veterans nationwide regain their dignity and rightful place in society,” said Jericho Executive Director Tori Lyon.
Veterans advocates say repeated deployments and post-traumatic stress disorder are leading to a cascade of financial dislocation, family estrangement and homelessness.
A recent study by the RAND Corp. found that about 300,000 U.S. combat troops are suffering from major depression and PTSD, while 320,000 have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Most of them, the study concluded, do not get adequate care.
According to The Homelessness Research Institute, veterans make up 26% of the homeless population nationwide, despite representing only 11% of the civilian adult population.
Although veterans are disproportionately represented among homeless adults in the New York City shelter system, there are only two supportive housing projects dedicated to veterans in the city.
Vietnam vet Ivery Walker, 57, who does outreach for the Bronx Vet Center on the campus of the Bronx VA Medical Center, was delighted to hear of Jericho’s plans.
“That would be wonderful,” he said, pointing out that the Bronx VA’s homeless services unit offers counseling but not housing.
He said that without a stable address, it’s almost impossible for disabled veterans to receive their rightful benefits.
“Homelessness is a real problem for vets,” Walker said.
At both facilities, 60% of potential residents will be veterans referred from the city’s homeless shelter system, and 40% will be low-income veterans from the community.
The Jericho Project purchased the vacant lots with financing from the New York City Acquisition Loan Fund, and will receive development funding from the city Housing Preservation and Development Department as part of the New York-New York III program, as well as ongoing funding from the city Health Department.
Jericho expects to begin construction on the first residence this year, and open the doors in early 2010.