Jacksonville’s Military Affairs and Veterans Department (MAVD) is receiving a $231,750 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support homeless veterans.
The federal award will go towards funding MAVD’s Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP), a program that provides employment and training services to assist homeless veterans.
Mayor Lenny Curry said Jacksonville is a proud military town and the grant highlights the city’s commitment to service members.
“No veteran should be forced to spend a night on the streets of a nation they have fought to defend,” he said, in an email to WJCT News. “I am proud of the hard work that our Military Affairs and Veterans Department and Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program accomplish in support of our veterans.”
The program offers homeless veterans services that include job placement, training, career counseling, and resume preparation. HVRP also provides referrals to housing, medical treatment and transportation assistance.
Jeff Duncan, who heads HVRP, said vets who go through the program typically land a job within 90 days - and the service doesn’t stop there.
“Once they’re employed, we follow up with them - hands on - for an entire year to make sure that what started as something that was short term turns into a long term remedy for homelessness, he said.
Duncan said the goal for this year is to enroll and find jobs for 100 homeless vets.
In 2018, the program had more than 90 veterans, with 78 of them placed in a job with an average hourly wage of $12.32. For vets who are chronically homelessness - which means they generally have a disability, can’t drive, or have been homeless fours in three years, according to Duncan - the program achieved a 96% employment rate.
This year marks the HVRP’s 12th year in Jacksonville.
To qualify for the program, veterans must prove they’re homeless, living in a temporary shelter, or facing foreclosure or eviction.