Your library is committed to providing every person in our community with free access to information, which is why we recently began partnering with Veteran Affairs (VA) to provide homeless Veterans with information about housing resources. On the first and third Tuesdays of every month from 12:30-1:30 p.m., a VA community outreach social worker is available in the library’s Polly Peterson Room to meet with Veterans who are seeking short-term and long-term housing.
We recently talked with Amanda Dobbs, a community outreach specialist for VA’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program (HCHV), about the importance of connecting Veterans with housing resources and what resources are available in our region.
JCPL: What affect can finding short- or long-term housing have on homeless Veterans? How can it change their lives?
Amanda Dobbs: Providing housing for homeless Veterans allows the potential for safety and security, which meets a basic need. Once basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and safety are met, a Veteran can start to work on other needs, such as psychological and self-fulfillment. These needs could include interpersonal relationships, obtaining education or more education, finding creative outlets and hobbies, and others. Imagine how incredibly difficult it would be to focus on school assignments or have energy for a long work shift when you are unsure where you are sleeping for the night, and possibly didn’t sleep more than a few restless hours the night before. Having housing provides Veterans with a foundation to rebuild and enter a new phase in life.
JCPL: What housing resources do you typically share with Veterans?
Dobbs: I usually share information about our three homeless programs: HUD-VASH (permanent supportive housing with case management), DCHV (a residential domiciliary program for homeless Veterans), and the GPD program (transitional housing with case management). I can also provide information regarding Volunteers of America’s SSVF program, which is a grant-funded case management program for low-income Veterans and their families. There are also other housing programs in the community through other agencies. Because there are multiple barriers that can lead to homelessness and eventual housing instability, I share other VA and community resources to ensure those barriers are addressed—such as resources dealing with employment, food, behavioral health treatment, and others.
JCPL: Why is the library a good place to offer this assistance?
Dobbs: The basis of what I’m offering at the library is the fundamentals of social work—that is, meeting Veterans where they are. HCHV is not only trying to decrease barriers to housing, but also trying to decrease barriers to accessing information about our homeless programs. We hope to meet the needs of each Veteran through providing education, resource-linking, and referrals.
For more information about homelessness among Veterans, click here. Learn more about VA homeless programs here or at va.gov/homeless. Stay updated on your library’s VA Homeless Programs Assistance by visiting www.jcpl.org, calling 423-434-4454, and following Johnson City Public Library on Facebook and Instagram.