U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald says Connecticut is the first state in the country to end chronic homelessness among veterans.
McDonald made the announcement on Thursday at a veterans’ housing development located at the VA medical center in Newington.
State officials say all known veterans in Connecticut experiencing chronic homelessness have housing or are on an immediate path to permanent housing
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says while he is proud that Connecticut is the first state to achieve this goal, more problems that homeless veterans face still need to be addressed.
"Lack of jobs and skill training, lack of educational benefits, lack of health care, particularly mental health care that causes so many of our veterans to go homeless," he said. "We will not end homelessness until we address the underlying causes, so today is no moment for 'mission accomplished.'"
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut credited the drop in chronic homeless among veterans in part to an increase in housing vouchers offered through a federal program. The vouchers cover the cost of rent for the veterans. Murphy said the Connecticut Congressional delegation fought to increase the number of vouchers over the last seven years.
Murphy says now the next challenge for the state is to help more veterans find jobs.
"Mission number one is to get jobs for veterans, because if they have a job they will be able to afford a roof over their heads," he said. "Getting jobs for these veterans, getting the job skills that they need, overcoming any barriers that they may have to getting a job, that’s really the work that we have ahead of us."
Murphy says those barriers include getting proper health care and overcoming substance abuse.
State officials say now, when veterans become homeless, there are systems in place to help them find temporary housing within 30 days and permanent housing within 60 days.