CARES Funds Help Nonprofit Reach Veterans Most At-Risk for Homelessness
PEMBROKE PINES, FL — Very low-income veterans facing housing crises as a result of coronavirus don’t have to leave home to get help. With $1.52 million in emergency funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Purpose Built Families Foundation’s Operation Sacred Trust collaboration is bringing rapid assistance directly to veterans’ driveways, parking lots, and local front doors.
Proactively Targeting Hardest Hit Neighborhoods
The Broward County nonprofit has helped prevent and end homelessness for thousands of local veterans since 2011 through its Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. CARES funds are helping the agency expand services to proactively target South Florida’s hardest hit neighborhoods to prevent increased veteran homelessness.
Using an integration of Census data, 211 reports, and COVID-19 updates, the agency identifies neighborhoods with the highest needs each week to deliver services through a mobile rapid response team. Next week, Operation Sacred Trust’s rapid response team will focus on veterans throughout the Lauderhill community.
Veterans Want to Help
“There are unique challenges serving veterans,” said Purpose Built Families Foundation CEO Seth Eisenberg.
“Veterans want to be the ones giving,” Eisenberg said. “They are often the last to reach out for assistance, despite consequences that can last a lifetime. That’s an important consideration in making services most accessible in the neighborhoods where veterans face the highest risk of homelessness.”
“We help veterans recognize VA help is part of benefits they earned through their prior service and sacrifices,” Eisenberg added.
The agency is using CARES funds to help very low income veterans pay back rents, utilities, access benefits, receive care management, legal aid, prevent evictions, and quickly access other assistance vital to sustaining housing.
“The needs in our community are enormous. These funds will help many of those who are most vulnerable. The sad reality is we don’t have the resources to help every veteran in need.”Seth Eisenberg, Purpose Built Families Foundation
Continuing Services Through COVID-19 Closings
Engagement Director Juan Flores said Operation Sacred Trust has not paused veteran services during the COVID-19 outbreak and related closings.
“Even when we had to close our Broward and Miami-Dade County offices to ensure the safety of staff and veterans, we continued to serve veterans 24/7,” Flores said.
Flores praised the agency’s technology team for making sure the 25-person staff has the support needed to continue assisting local veterans, and GEICO for contributing a mobile response vehicle to help the team expand services.
Reza Kavoosi directs the Information Technology department that supports services to veterans across South Florida. Kavoosi said tools such as Salesforce, Zoom, and a robust VOIP phone system made the transition possible without interruptions. Kavoosi credits a decade of military service, including training and experience as an intelligence officer, with preparing him to help lead the battle to serve fellow veterans impacted by COVID-19.
“A Veteran is never alone.”Dr. Juan Flores
Flores supervises intake activities from a mobile operations center originally created to rapidly help at-risk veterans through weather disasters. Dr. Flores said his commitment as a Marine didn’t end when he completed active duty.
“We are all responsible for each other,” Flores said. “That responsibility means showing up where we’re needed, when we’re needed, no matter the circumstances.”
“A veteran is never alone,” he said.
How to Get Help
Although funds are limited, Operation Sacred Trust is able to help many veterans who have served at least one day of active military service, have a discharge other than dishonorable, and have annual household income below the very-low income threshold set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. For example, in Broward County the maximum income for a single household is $31,200, $35,640 for a two-person household, and $40,100 for a three-person household.
For assistance, enrollment, or further information, contact Operation Sacred Trust online at www.411Veterans.com, by texting VETERAN to 67076, through Facebook at facebook.com/OperationSacredTrust, or calling (855) SSVF-411 (855-778-3411).