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Goodwill wins grant to help veterans in central Oklahoma

The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program helps veterans in Oklahoma City. It is a program of Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma.
Oklahoman Modified: March 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm •  Published: March 6, 2014

Vietnam veteran David Colon was left homeless after his uncle suddenly sold the trailer they shared.

“One of his daughters called me on the 28th and told me he’d sold the trailer and that we had to be out by the 1st,” he said.

Colon had no idea what he was going to do until people in his sleep-deprivation class told him about the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.

A case manager at Goodwill was able to get him into an apartment in a matter of weeks.

“I would still be homeless if it wasn't for this program,” Colon said.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families is a homeless prevention, rapid rehousing grant that Goodwill was awarded from Veterans Affairs. Under terms of the grant, Goodwill is expected to serve 500 veteran families by Sept. 1. So far, the agency has helped 138.

“It's designed to prevent homelessness among very low-income veteran families,” said Jerry Helton, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program manager for Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma.

Helton said the program takes a housing-first approach.

“Whenever I started with Goodwill, I felt like housing-first was counterintuitive. I felt like you should have the means to support yourself before you moved into a home, but the Veterans Administration has had a lot of success with it,” Helton said.

“There's been a lot of research within the homeless community that shows that the housing-first model is actually very effective. As you start supplying a person with the things they need, they start pursuing the means to maintain those things.”

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