From Homeless to Hopeful After a Year

By J Robinson

I am a 56-year-old homeless, unemployed, female veteran. I served in the United States Army for one year, after which I was honorably discharged. Over the next thirty years, as a single mother, I managed to successfully raise my daughter to adulthood, as well as earned a B.S. and M.Ed. What I was not so successful at was finding and keeping stable, gainful employment. After my daughter graduated from college, my life seemed to be an endless cycle of getting a job, getting a place; losing the job, losing the place.

During this time of financial insecurity, I contacted The Veterans Service Commission to see what assistance they could provide. I was informed that the number of months’ assistance I was eligible for is equal to the number of months I was actively in the military. After several years of unsuccessfully trying to hold my life together, on December 31, 2013 I entered a homeless shelter.

The past year has been long and hard, but very rewarding for me.  Thankful for the services provided at the shelter, which provided me with a very safe and wonderful place to “fall apart”, combined with some of the following services I’ve received from the Veterans Administration, I’ve been able to begin to put the scattered puzzle pieces of my life back together. At the end of 2013 I was homeless. At the end of 2014, I’m full of hope, gratitude and looking forward to moving into my own place in February 2015. 

These are the Programs I have learned can help Veterans locally:

Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission (CCVSC) provides temporary financial aid to veterans those who are in need.  Financial Assistance is provided for many things, among them are:  mortgage/ rent/ security deposit, food, clothing/shoes; personal hygiene; utilities; dental; medical transportation. 

*Veterans Administration provides the following services:


VA’s Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) is comprised of three unique programs which assist homeless Veterans in returning to competitive employment: Sheltered Workshop, Transitional Work, and Supported Employment. Veterans in CWT are paid at least the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher.

The Homeless Veteran Supported Employment Program (HVSEP) provides vocational assistance, job development and placement, and ongoing supports to improve employment outcomes among homeless Veterans and Veterans at-risk of homelessness. Formerly homeless Veterans who have been trained as Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists (VRSs) provide these services.


Supportive Services for Veterans and Families (SSVF) Program was established in 2011 to rapidly re-house homeless Veteran families and prevent homelessness for those at imminent risk due to a housing crisis. Services include outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and help in accessing and coordinating other public benefits. SSVF grantees can also make time-limited temporary payments on behalf of Veterans to cover rent, utilities, security deposits and moving costs.

Housing and Urban Development/Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) - This program combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that include health care, mental health treatment, vocational assistance, and job development.

Community Resource/Referral Center (CRRC) Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) is a place where Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can get connected to stable housing and supportive services.  CRRCs provide access to housing, health care, job development programs, and other VA and non-VA benefits.

Health Care:

VA’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program offers outreach, exams, treatment, referrals, and case management to Veterans who are homeless and dealing with mental health issues, including substance use.

VA’s Homeless Veterans Dental Program provides dental treatment for eligible Veterans in a number of programs: Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation Treatment, VA Grant and Per Diem, Compensated Work Therapy/Transitional Residence, Healthcare for Homeless Veterans, and Community Residential Care.                      

Mental Health Services:

Veteran Justice Outreach provides eligible, justice-involved Veterans with timely access to VA’s mental health and substance use services when clinically indicated, and other VA services and benefits as appropriate.

The Health Care for Re-Entry Veterans Program helps incarcerated Veterans successfully rejoin the community through supports including those addressing mental health and substance use problems.

The Readjustment Counseling Service’s Vet Center Programs feature community-based locations and outreach activities that help to identify homeless Veterans and match homeless Veterans with necessary services.

For more information:

Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission (CCVSC): 1849 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.  Phone 216-698-2600.

Community Resource/Referral Center (CRRC): 7000 Euclid Avenue, Suite 202, Cleveland, Ohio 44103. Phone 216-391-0264.

Louis Stokes Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC): 10701 East Blvd, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. Phone 216-791-3800.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH January 2015