ST. LOUIS — St. Louis-area leaders have set an ambitious goal in addressing homelessness among veterans: All should have a stable place to live by Veterans Day in November.
The effort from the St. Louis Area Regional Commission on Homelessness was announced Monday at the downtown Soldiers Memorial.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the region has an estimated 300 homeless veterans. St. Louis County Director of Human Services Yusef Scoggin says no veteran “should come home and be homeless.”
St. Louis is using a regional approach under the “Built for Zero” model coordinated by the nonprofit Community Solutions. St. Louis is among 74 communities nationwide using the model.
The program relies on data providing a “real time” list of veterans who have become homeless. It matches them with housing resources. Goals of each veteran are listed and progress is updated monthly to try and keep each person on track.
The coverage area for the St. Louis project includes the city along with the counties of Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, St. Charles, St. Louis and Warren in Missouri and Madison and St. Clair in Illinois.
Supporters say the region is equipped with adequate housing, financing and programming, but previously lacked coordination. A 25-member commission will oversee the effort.
An exact price tag for the nine-month effort remains unknown until a needs assessment is completed, but is expected to be “a few million dollars,” Scoggin said.
Shaleen Robertson, homeless programs manager for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in St. Louis, called the effort “challenging but it’s realistic and achievable.”
Since 2015, the Built for Zero program has found housing for more than 96,000 people nationally. That includes more than 60,000 veterans.