LeRoy Collins Commentary 75

Commentary #75
17 July 2007

Homeless veterans data for Florida

Here are some State statistics re Homeless Veterans in Florida...shocking.

While the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs has a sustained interest in resolution of this problem, we have no direct funding, nor any facilities. We DO function in processing claimants who are Veterans to determine if their military service entitles them to retroactive cash benefits (typically payable by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs), and/or on-going future benefits.

While rare, we occasionally find a Homeless Veteran whose retroactive benefits total a FEW HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS! The reason that has occurred is typically because the privacy laws do not let us know who they are; those affected must identify themselves, and they typically do not know we are there to help them. This is a major disconnect in the system we are seeking to rectify. I think the ongoing health of Veterans is far more important than their privacy, because many of their problems are mental; but many of them feel otherwise. It is a major dilemma.

The State's funding of Homeless remedies in done through the Florida Department of Children and Families, and this Department goes at great lengths to distribute grants fairly through 27 local relief agencies covering all Florida cities/counties. The local policies within those 27 entities cover the gamut of intensity/tolerance.

Bottom line: there are many private groups competing for Homeless dollars, but the State's funding goes through the 27 local coalitions. The State deems those organizations best qualified to know who should get the limited funding available.

I expect further evolution in the near future for handling the unfortunate Homeless Veterans in Florida. It is a sad plight for anyone stalled in such a basic existence, ESPECIALLY if children are involved. Contrary to many stereotypes, approximately 2 of 3 Homeless Veterans in Florida are employed; but their income is insufficient for rent/mortgage payments. There is a lot of work to do here.

Click here to see the statistics (.pdf file requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.


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