The Journal Gazette
Monday, September 03, 2018 1:00 am

Shepherd's House gets cleared for VA funds

Grant to pay for 20 beds for homeless veterans

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Roughly a year after it was rejected and then approved for federal funds, a Fort Wayne shelter for homeless military veterans will receive a grant that pays for more than half its usual occupancy.

Shepherd's House has learned it qualified for Department of Veterans Affairs assistance covering 20 beds in fiscal 2019, which begins Oct. 1. 

“We are grateful to the VA for continuing to work with us,” Shepherd's House manager Tracey Barr said Sunday by telephone.

Barr said the nonprofit faith-based shelter on Tennessee Avenue near Spy Run averaged 35 homeless veterans a day in 2017. A year ago, Shepherd's House ended up receiving a VA funding extension for 38 beds after its initial application was denied.

The VA Grant and Per Diem Program for transitional housing had in recent years supplied about $500,000 annually to Shepherd's House, or 80 percent of its total budget. Under the 2019 grant formula, the shelter will receive about $45 a day for each homeless veteran it houses up to 20 veterans, Barr said, which would be a maximum of $328,500.

Private donations for the shelter ramped up last year when it looked like Shepherd's House would lose its VA grant. Barr said Shepherd's House has received about $260,000 in private donations since then.

“We've had to get into that to keep operations going and continue to take care of veterans,” she said Sunday.

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks intervened with VA on behalf of Shepherd's House last summer.

“Shepherd's House plays a vital role in our community and provides hope to many Hoosier veterans in need of assistance,” Banks, R-3rd, said this weekend in a statement. “Last year, I fought to restore funding for Shepherd's House. This year, I was proud to help ensure it continued to receive funding to carry out its mission. Shepherd's House has a bright future, and I will continue to support efforts in Congress that help our veterans and the organizations that serve them.”

Both Banks, a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, and Barr noted that VA approved Shepherd's House as a clinical treatment model. Shepherd's House offers addiction treatment services to homeless veterans in addition to temporary housing.

“We are the only one in our area that will have a clinical model,” Barr said. “We think that's a real positive, that we can provide more services in the substance abuse and mental health areas.”

The only other Indiana program to receive VA homeless housing money for next year is Indianapolis-based Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation of Indiana. It qualified for aid for 10 beds in the service-intensive model, which offers residential services that lead to permanent housing.

VA has several housing models in its Grant and Per Diem Program. They include short-term housing, hospital recovery housing and services for veterans adjusting to permanent housing.

In a news release, VA said it plans to spend $200 million in fiscal year 2019 to support more than 13,000 transitional housing beds for homeless veterans across the nation.

Barr said private fundraising will continue for Shepherd's House, with seven events planned the rest of this year, including a Sept. 18 charity golf outing at Chestnut Hills Golf Club sponsored by Ruoff Home Mortgage.

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