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Inside Sources: For homeless veterans in Utah, this team has your back

Clinics like this one in South Salt Lake will provide COVID-19 vaccine shots to homeless veterans across northern Utah. Photo: KSL TV

SALT LAKE CITY — They served their country overseas, defending freedom and democracy. Now, they come home but have no home. Homeless veterans in Utah, who cares for them?

Executive Director Jeff Kane of the Homeless Veterans Fellowship (HVF) in Ogden joined Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson to discuss how the fellowship help vets find stability and security in their lives through housing programs.

“We have several programs that complement each other [and] work with veterans who are either homeless or at risk of being homeless, as well as veterans and their families. The key is to get them back into housing and get them stabilized, and having a more productive life if they want it,” Kane said.

He said the HVF has 25 beds in a transitional housing program for veterans who need hands-on intensive case management and another 12 beds for those who require permanent support.

“Generally, we take in those with schizophrenia, major mental illnesses, severe and persistent types. Other programs won’t accept them. Sometimes they’re not medicated. Sometimes you just have behaviors that are a little too outside of the norm, so they come and stay with us,” Kane said.

He said another grant  covers the entire state of Utah, except Salt Lake County, and southern Idaho.

“We can have case managers go out with some temporary financial assistance so that the veterans don’t have to leave their areas,” he said.

Kane said another HVF program serves veterans who are 100% disabled but earn more than the maximum the program allows for assistance.

“They have conditions that do not does not allow them to maintain housing. They become homeless but they’re over-income, so there were no services before for that. Now we have case managers to work with them on a regular basis,” Kane said.

More vets need help

In both 2019 and 2020, he said HVF served between 120 and 130 veterans.

“Today, and we’re only nine months in our fiscal year, we’ve already hit 240 veterans [served],” Kane said.

Boyd alluded to programs that limit the benefits veterans are permitted to receive based on their current life situation.

“Often what happens is there’s sort of this cliff in terms of what someone who’s facing homelessness . . . what assistance they can get or can’t get,” he said. “We try to help them progress and improve and get skills and strengthen them, then suddenly we hit this cliff where it’s better for them to stay where they are than keep progressing.”

“Right now we have several grants that can reach the majority of people that are homeless that are veterans so we have the full service right here with our program,” Kane said. “Many of these individuals are really good human beings . . . They are just an asset to our society. To ignore them is such a deficit to our community and to our society as a whole.”

Kane thanked the Department of Veterans Service and the state of Utah for providing help in securing housing and other services for homeless veterans.

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.