Winston-Salem and Greensboro officials are joining forces to target homelessness among military veterans and are giving themselves until the end of 2015 to find solutions.
Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan both spoke about the effort Tuesday before a crowd invited to the Veterans Helping Veterans Heal center on Glenn Avenue. The center is one of the organizations in Winston-Salem that helps homeless veterans by giving them a place to stay up for to two years while they get counseling and other assistance to move toward independent living.
The mayors started off with the good news: They said that the percentage of homeless people who are veterans has been dropping.
Joines said that in 2007 when the city started counting the homeless, veterans made up 15 percent of the homeless. Last January, Joines said, veterans were down to 8 percent of the total.
Similarly, in Greensboro veterans made up 11 percent of the homeless population in 2011, and reduced that to 8 percent in January 2014.
“You can’t do anything by yourself,” Joines said, pointing to the collaborative nature of the effort. “Everybody grabs a hold of the end of the rope and you move it forward.”
Vaughan said that because homeless veterans move between Greensboro and Winston-Salem, collaboration makes sense.
“It is great that we have this partnership that we can track our homeless population and work with them better,” she said.
Both Winston-Salem and Greensboro are taking part in Zero: 2016, an effort across multiple communities across the nation to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and end chronic homelessness by 2016.
The mayors said they know that their cities can’t get to the point where there will never be another homeless veteran. Instead, they define the goal as having the programs in place to quickly and adequately deal with any veteran homelessness that presents itself.
The two cities hope to share strategies for dealing with homeless veterans as well as data for a coordinated approach to the problem, officials said.