Mecklenburg County and the city of Charlotte used Veterans Day on Tuesday to kick off an initiative to place 204 homeless veterans into permanent housing by the end of 2015.
The project, called the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Our Heroes, will be done with the help of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. First lady Michelle Obama launched the effort.
Obama had requested that mayors across the country take part in the initiative. Since Mecklenburg provides veterans services, Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter called county commissioners Chairman Trevor Fuller to ask the county to join with the city to reach the goal.
The county will identify homeless veterans, help find available housing and provide support services to raise public awareness that Mecklenburg has many veterans who are homeless for a variety of reasons.
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An estimated 20 percent of Charlotte’s homeless population is made up of veterans, many serving in the 1990s, local veteran advocates say.
As a result, a growing number of programs have focused on homeless veterans.
The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte reports that typically 12 percent of its residents are former military. In January, the Salvation Army Center of Hope shelter for women and children launched a program that uses VA money to reserve 26 beds for veterans and their children.
“It is going to take a lot of effort for us to reach this goal,” Fuller said. “We’ll be reaching out to everybody who is a stakeholder – landlords, employers, citizens – to help us.
“We would love to do much better than our goal. These men and women who have given so much to this country and our community deserve it.” Staff writer Mark Price contributed.