Community

City officials are touting efforts over the past year that have led to hundreds of homeless veterans moving into permanent housing.

Earlier this year, Metro agencies launched an initiative aimed at find housing solutions for homeless veterans. The initiative, called Rx: Housing Veterans, is intended to end homelessness among veterans in Louisville by 2016.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced on Monday that housing has been secured for the 360 homeless veterans identified earlier this year.

But work remains. Specifically, the city continues to need renters to participate in a program intended to get homeless veterans off the streets and out of shelters.

Fischer said since January, more veterans have become homeless in Louisville. Because of that, the coalition of nonprofits and government agencies has worked to develop an overarching system that can get newly homeless veterans into housing within 90 days, said Chris Taylor, the Louisville field director for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Homelessness is a fluid issue,” Taylor said. “Obviously this is an ongoing effort.”

Housing vouchers provided by various government agencies cover the fair-market cost of rent, he said.

One issue that continues to hinder the effort is a lack of landlords willing to accept the vouchers and get homeless veterans into permanent housing, said Natalie Harris, executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless.

“We have a lot of people who have a voucher in hand but need to find an apartment,” Harris said in August.

Since 2010, the homeless population in Kentucky has dropped about 23 percent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s latest annual report to Congress, which was released in November 2014.

The most recent single-night tally found about 5,000 Kentuckians were homeless. Nationally, more than 578,000 people are homeless on a given night, according to the report.

Rx: Housing Veterans is an initiative spawned from the Obama administration’s push to eradicate veteran homelessness by 2016. Since the push began in 2010, homelessness among veterans has dropped more than 30 percent nationwide, said Jamie Watts, VA coordinator for the program.

New Orleans; Houston; Phoenix; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Mobile, Ala.; and Salt Lake City are the only other cities that have reached this level of success, according to information provided by Metro government.

City officials encourage anyone in need of more resources for a veteran who is homeless or in imminent risk of becoming homeless to call (502) 637-2337. And any landlord or property manager who has an interest in getting involved with the initiative is encouraged to call John Miles with the Louisville Metro department of community services at (502) 574-5050.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.