Two Oregon nonprofits awarded a combined $9 million to battle homelessness among veterans

Transition Projects of Portland and St. Vincent DePaul Society of Lane County were awarded grants by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency announced Tuesday.

Transition Projects will get $6 million and St. Vincent DePaul $3 million under the agency’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. The SSVF program, along with a joint program between the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, are among the agency’s most prominent tools to reduce veteran homelessness.

Under the SSVF program, awardees can use the grants to help veterans and their families make rent and utility payments. The nonprofits also can provide case management services and assistance getting VA and other public benefits.

In 2009, President Obama and former VA secretary Eric Shinseki announced a goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. While the number of homeless veterans will never fall to zero, the VA says it has seen the number of homeless veterans fall 33 percent since 2010.

The January 2014 Point-in-Time count of homeless people in the United States found 49,933 homeless veterans.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., whose office issued a press release announcing the Oregon grants, said “It’s great news that Oregon will have more resources to ensure that our vets and their families receive the support they deserve as they transition back to civilian life.”