City joins national fight against veteran homelessness

SA homeless vet numbers 25 percent above state average

By Paul Venema - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A panel of representatives from federal and state agencies met Tueday to discuss ways to end veteran homelessness.

City Councilman Ron Nirenberg said homelessness is a problem that should not exist in a place known as "Military City USA." Nirenberg said a city task force has been formed to address the issue, and its members are already at work.

"When did it start, yesterday," he said. "When will it end? When we reach zero on veteran homelessness."

Among the cities joining San Antonio in a national initiative to end veteran homelessness is Phoenix. That city's program has been underway since 2012 and is succeeding according to Brad Bridwell of Cloudbreak Communities.

Bridwell said fixing the problem begins on the streets.

"It starts by knowing every homeless veteran out on the streets by name and by face," Bridwell said.  "You do it at 4 in the morning when the city is not quite awake but the homeless are starting to move around."

Bridwell said that for the program to work, it must involve the entire community, from elected officials and government agencies to civilian volunteers and the business community. He said it also must provide veterans with follow-up care, including counseling, therapy and education.

Nirenberg says those things are part of the city's plan as it joins 225 other cities nationwide in an effort to end veteran homelessness.

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