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Little Rock mayor says city has 'functionally' ended veteran homelessness

Little Rock mayor says city has 'functionally' ended veteran homelessness
Little Rock mayor says city has 'functionally' ended veteran homelessness
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Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola has announced that the city has "functionally" ended veteran homelessness, making Little Rock the first in the state to do so.

"This month we are going to be submitting paperwork saying we have functionally ended veteran homelessness in the city of Little Rock,” he said.

According to city officials, more than 120 veterans were identified as living in shelters or outdoors in 2017.

“We need to reach out and help them get back on their feet,” Stodola said.

Through the Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness, a nationwide initiative that began in 2014, a task force comprised of representatives from various agencies including the Metropolitan Housing Alliance, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, St. Francis House Ministries and the Little Rock Landlord Association have worked to complete several goals over the past few years.

“It has to do with the functionality and making sure you can get people off the street it means finding permanent housing,” said Stodola.

One place offering housing for local homeless veterans is St. Francis House Ministries. The nonprofit organization recently received a grant of more than $904,000 to serve as a supportive service site.

“We aren’t saying we are ending vet homelessness," said Pat Dahlgren, program director for the city's Supportive Services for Veteran Families site. "We are saying we have met the federal benchmarks that allow you to house veterans quickly when they become homeless."

“I think that is a role and function as mayor that I have got and I am happy to lead the way on that,” Stodola said.

According to city officials, any homeless veteran looking for assistance can call city hall.

In the coming days, the city will officially file paperwork with the federal government that will recognize it as having completed the benchmarks that meet its latest goal.

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The City of Little Rock will then join the ranks of nearly 60 other communities and three states in the country who can say they have functionally ended veteran homelessness.

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