PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- In 2009, President Obama announced an initiative to end veteran homelessness by 2015. In Portland, that effort was already underway.
When the city started addressing the issue in 2005, 25% of the people staying at the Oxford Street Shelter were veterans. Today, only eight percent of the people at the shelter are veterans.
Portland has a Veterans Specialist who works with vets at the shelter to connect them with benefits they may qualify for. Every Tuesday night, the shelter holds a clinic in partnership with the V.A. Vets have the opportunity to meet with medical professionals, social workers, and people who can help them find permanent housing.
The V.A.'s Healthcare for Homelessness Veterans Program Coordinator Carol Kulesza says veterans often come in seeking medical help, and they are able to connect them with a variety of other services they need.
"Being homeless rarely has to do with a lack of housing," Kulesza said. "It often has to do with something that's causing the homelessness. And so we want to address the homelessness much as we would somebody with pain. But we also have to get at the root causes of it."
The Oxford Street Shelter is always looking for community support for its veterans programs. You can help by donating money to be used for security deposits or rental application fees. With the start of the cold weather season, the shelter is also looking for donations of warm socks and gloves.