Patty in the News

Two Tacoma nonprofits will each get $1.5 million to help homeless veterans in Pierce County find safe places to live over the next three years, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday.

Both grants augment programs already in place connecting homeless veterans with transitional housing.

One will go to Metropolitan Development Council, which already had $1.8 million in VA funding this year. The other is for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, which had $800,000 in VA funding for homeless outreach in the Puget Sound area.

“The big impact is that we’ll simply house more veterans and their families,” said Troy Christensen, chief operating office at MDC.

The news doesn’t end there for local veterans programs this week. The VA also awarded a $65,000 grant to Metro Parks Tacoma to support adaptive sports programs for disabled veterans.

And, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is awarding more than $230,000 to housing agencies in Tacoma and Thurston County. The money is to be distributed as housing vouchers to veterans facing homelessness.

HUD is steering about $1.2 million in vouchers to veterans programs in King County.

“These vouchers are a huge boost in the effort to end homelessness among veterans in our state,” U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in announcing the HUD funding. “Each one of these vouchers represents a step toward finding a permanent home for someone who sacrificed for our nation, but is struggling to find stable housing.”

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington director Denny Hunthausen said the large grants to his agency and to MDC reflect the concentration of veterans in need in Pierce County.

Puget Sound communities in Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston counties have the highest concentration of seriously disabled veterans on the West Coast, according to VA data obtained by McClatchy Newspapers in 2011.

“We’re very pleased to provide additional services and support to so many of our homeless veterans who have served us well and find themselves in difficult circumstances,” he said.

So far, MDC has helped 220 veteran and veteran family members find housing this year in Pierce County, Christensen said.

The organization is looking to expand some job-training programs for veterans in need as well, to “decrease odds they’ll be at the edge of homelessness again,” Christensen said.

- Tacoma News Tribune