New Campaign Aims to House Hundreds of Homeless Veterans

Just before the Veterans Day parade marched through downtown San Jose, South Bay leaders unveiled a campaign to get hundreds of homeless veterans off the streets.

Called “All the Way Home,” the regional multi-agency initiative aims to end veteran homelessness in Santa Clara County by 2017, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and county Supervisor Dave Cortese announced this morning.

“No man or woman who has served their country should sleep under a bridge at night,” Cortese said in a statement.

The city of San Jose has committed $6 million, the county $1.5 million a year and the Housing Authority another $7.5 million to the effort led by housing nonprofit Destination: Home.

Of the 6,500-plus homeless people who live in this county, 700 are military veterans. Nearly half of those veterans are chronically homeless, while 250 have subsidized housing vouchers in hand but no place to use them.

Cortese and Liccardo, who joined forces after squaring off in last year’s contentious mayor’s race, are asking corporations and faith-based groups to join the initiative. But they especially need landlords to step up.

“We can—and we will—end veterans homelessness in our community,” Liccardo wrote in an op-ed for the Mercury News. “It will take all of us working together, but Wednesday’s launch of our ‘All the Way Home’ campaign shows that we have a strong and growing coalition committed to ensuring a dignified home for every veteran.”

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to fix up a falling-apart apartment on Vermont Street to house veterans. Last month, the city bought the first of several motels to convert into transitional housing. Policymakers are also considering a $250 million bond to address regional homelessness.

According to Destination: Home, most of the region’s homeless veterans are unsheltered, while 71 percent lived in this county when they became homeless.

Many veterans suffer from traumatic brain injuries, mental illness and physical disabilities, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming homeless—even more so in Silicon Valley’s expensive, competitive rental market.

The regional campaign stemmed from First Lady Michelle Obama’s national initiative with the U.S. Veterans Administration Housing and Urban Development and to end veterans’ homelessness. For more information, visit the All the Way Home Facebook page and campaign website.