Getting all veterans into affordable housing requires teamwork - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Getting all veterans into affordable housing requires teamwork

Think of the services offered by the Biloxi VA and homelessness probably doesn't come to mind. However, the VA has been the cornerstone of a coalition determined to find housing for any veteran. (Photo source: WLOX) Think of the services offered by the Biloxi VA and homelessness probably doesn't come to mind. However, the VA has been the cornerstone of a coalition determined to find housing for any veteran. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Think of the services offered by the Biloxi VA Health Care System and homelessness probably doesn't come to mind. However, the VA has been the cornerstone of a coalition that's determined to find affordable housing for any veteran who needs it. 

"From time to time, we're still going to have veterans who are homeless, but there's enough resources available to find some permanent housing for those veterans. So that's great progress in the last three years I've been working in the program here in Biloxi," said Eric Oleson, who directs the homeless program at the Biloxi VA. 

He said while much progress has been made in recent years, some significant challenges remain. 

"We still don't have that emergency shelter to help while we're looking for the permanent housing, so that's been one of the biggest issues for the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Oleson. "The process could take two to three, four, eight weeks, if not longer. So we have some residential beds on the VA campus we can put them in, but if they don't meet the criteria there, they're still living on the streets."

Oleson said addressing the issue of homeless veterans takes a team approach. Mary Simons directs the Open Doors Homeless Coalition. 

"About 2,000 people a year touch the system. They're either on the verge of homelessness or fall into homelessness. And our system is working to expand so we can provide the assistance that's needed." 

Simons said the team approach to addressing the issue seems to be working. 

"We are making progress. There's still work to do, but we are definitely making progress."

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved. 

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