City effort aims to help homeless vets

Nonprofits, D-M join in push to aid those who 'stood up for us'
2013-06-22T00:00:00Z City effort aims to help homeless vetsDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild wants to find a solution to the plight of homeless veterans in Tucson.

President Obama's administration recently selected Tucson as one of 25 cities to participate in an initiative to end homelessness among veterans.

With the federal government providing additional assistance, Rothschild says it is a good opportunity to lend a hand to Tucsonans who have sacrificed so much for their country.

"It's our veterans that have stood up for us and when they need us, we have to stand up for them," Rothschild said during a Friday news conference.

Rothschild said homelessness is an intractable problem with many causes. He acknowledged it won't be easy to stamp out. So to accomplish this, he's enlisting a broad range of partners from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the Red Cross, nonprofit housing groups and more to assist in the effort.

The goal is to find housing for 52 homeless vets each month in an attempt to end homelessness among veterans by 2015. Currently, there are about 350 homeless veterans already identified in the region.

But that number will likely grow as the United States begins to pull out of Afghanistan over the next few years, said Col. Michael T. Rawls, vice-commander of the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan.

"As overseas operations wind down . . . these efforts will become even more critical," Rawls said.

Teresa Ramsey, a veteran who was assisted by the Department of Veterans Affairs when she found herself homeless and in need of help a few years ago, said her experience shows these programs can transform a person's life if people just seek them out.

"I know the help is there and I pray they reach out to them," Ramsey said.

Even though the push right now is to end homelessness among veterans, Rothschild said that with all of the government agencies, nonprofits and social-service groups coming together, he hopes it can translate into reducing homelessness overall.

"Part of what this goal (aims) to do is to increase the infrastructure for all the homeless in the community," Rothschild said.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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