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Human Services Department helps house homeless vets

November 13, 2013
Lehigh Acres Citizen

Sixty-seven homeless veterans have found housing in Lee County, thanks to providers including the Lee County Department of Human Services, Lee County Homeless Coalition, Veteran's Affairs, American Red Cross, the Fort Myers Housing Authority and the American Legion Post 38.

The effort started back in April when local homeless providers were invited to join the 100,000 Campaign to house 100,000 homeless veterans nationwide by the end of 2013.

Local providers committed to housing 50 homeless veterans in 90 days. By the time the 90-day period ended, 52 homeless veterans found housing.

So in July, the same local groups committed to housing another 50 to reach 100 by the end of December.

So far, 67 veterans have been housed with another 33 to go to reach the goal. There are 20 veterans in the system currently looking for housing.

The team teleconferences with each other every other week to identify program glitches and individual barriers to a veteran getting placed into stable housing.

An innovative aspect of the team includes a partnership with the American Legion Post 38 for veterans to be with other veterans for support.

Post 38 also secures and disburses household items to homeless veterans as they transition into their new life.

Lee County Human Services is housed in a building shared by Lee County Veterans Services, at 2440 Thompson St., Fort Myers.

Veterans can call the department at (239) 533-8381.

"The motto for my office is, 'Every day is Veterans Day,'" John Ebling, director of Veterans Services for Lee County, said. "Our primary mission is to assist veterans or the widows of veterans with claims on different benefits."

On average, Ebling sees 100 new clients each month.

Many clients also arrive at Veterans Services seeking assistance with rent, utility bills and more, and he refers these individuals to Lee County Human Services for help.



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