SAN ANTONIO – Retired U.S. Army Col. Sergio Dickerson said some veterans in the Bexar County area have ended up living on the streets due to challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of these veterans, for example, were unemployed, and so couldn’t pay their apartments or homes and then found themselves on the streets for the very first time,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson is with the American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program, a local organization that provides housing, mental health and employment services to veterans.
“We had a situation during the pandemic that we had a lot of veterans seek our services,” Dickerson said.
In the latest homeless census count, which was released on Monday, there was a 23% decrease in the number of veterans in local shelters.
Dickerson said, thanks to additional funding through the CARES Act, the organization was able to pull veterans from shelters and place them in housing. He said the eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also made a difference.
“The CDC moratorium kept folks from being evicted. So a lot of veterans that had significant arrears were not evicted from their apartments, so they were able to remain,” Dickerson said.
There are no exact numbers for the unsheltered population this year due to the pandemic’s social distancing limitations.
Dickerson believes the number is lower than in previous years, but he believes some veterans still need help.
“You are not alone. We’re here to help you,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson said programs for housing veterans must continue. With the eviction moratorium ending soon, he said many veterans could end up on the streets.
To learn more about the different services offered by the American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program, call 210-112-4088, or visit https://www.agif-nvop.org.