Today, Atlantic County Freeholder District 4 candidate Steve Stokes pledged to accept the Department of Veterans Affairs’ challenge to end Veteran homelessness in Atlantic County.
“The fact that anyone who wore the uniform of the United States has to wander the streets without a home is a disgrace,” said Stokes, who was honorably discharged from the Army as a Master Sergeant after 22 years of service that includes time in Iraq and the Pentagon. “If elected, I will make it a top priority end Veteran homelessness in Atlantic County once and for all.”
In 2009, the VA set a mission to end Veteran homelessness in the United States. Over 800 counties and municipalities nationwide have answered the call. Just recently, Bergen County was the latest locality certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of having a homeless veteran population of “functional zero,” meaning that all of the identified homeless veterans in Bergen County are housed or are in the process of being housed.
“If Bergen County can end Veteran homelessness, so can we,” said Stokes. “While our challenges are far greater and our economy is far worse, there’s no reason why we can’t use the resources of Atlantic County government to help homeless veterans in their time of need, especially given all of the sacrifices they have made for our country.”
According to a count of Atlantic County's homeless veterans conducted by Monarch Housing Associates in January, nearly 73% of them suffer from some kind of disability.
Stokes’ plan to end Veteran homelessness in Atlantic County includes:
- Appointing a liaison to coordinate efforts between nonprofit organizations, the VA, and state, county and local governments to get veterans the help they need now.
- Creating a Homelessness Trust Fund to aid homeless veterans, which has proven successful in counties all across New Jersey.
- Establishing a veterans’ set-aside program in Atlantic County to help veterans find work.