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Efforts in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina aimed at helping veterans avoid homelessness received another federal assist today with four grants from the Veterans Administration totaling $3.78 million, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. 

The grant having perhaps the biggest local impact is the $837,134 being given to the United Way of Forsyth County Inc. It will cover Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.

The United Way chapter has received a grant each of the four years that the program has existed for a total of $3.14 million.

It is not immediately clear where the latest grant money will be spent.

With the 2013 grant, the goal was providing a “rapid response” service for up to 200 households in Forsyth and neighboring counties, essentially helping low-income veterans and/or their families transition to rental housing if they have lost their homes or are on the verge of losing their homes.

The other grants touching the 14-county region are:

  •  $1.16 million to Community Link Programs of Travelers Aid Society of Central Carolinas Inc. for 10 counties that include Davidson
  • $1.03 million to Volunteers of America of the Carolinas Inc. for 14 counties that include Alamance, Randolph and Rockingham
  • $751,740 to Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry for 26 counties that include Ashe and Watauga

Nationally, the VA is providing almost $300 million in grants that are expected to assist 115,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.

Community-based groups can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of veterans for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs. However, they can’t provide financial assistance for mortgage payments.

“By working with community non-profit organizations, we have enlisted valuable partners in our fight to end homelessness,” Robert McDonald, the VA’s secretary, said in a statement. “This is a program that, indeed, makes a difference.”

The grants are part of a 2009 initiative launched by President Barack Obama to end veteran homelessness by 2015.

According to the 2013 point-in-time estimates of homelessness, homelessness among veterans has declined 24 percent nationally since 2009.

Andrea Kurtz, senior director for housing strategies for the Forsyth United Way chapter, has said that most of the veterans it is serving are from the Vietnam War era. Kurtz was not available for comment today.

She said in 2013 that the veterans “are struggling to find work, or to find work that pays enough to help them retire their debts and pay for basic needs. Many have physical and/or mental disabilities that make work difficult for them.” Kurtz said the Forsyth chapter has a “pretty robust” outreach program to identify local veterans who could benefit from the program.

In July, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines participated in the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness, led by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

Joines said he chose to join the effort because of the success of Winston-Salem’s 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness that was started in 2006 with a $500,000 grant from the federal Housing and Urban Development.

“We have made such good progress in our efforts to end chronic homelessness — reduced by 58 percent — that I felt we had a real chance to address homeless veterans,” Joines said. “We have such phenomenal results that I felt we could achieve this goal and hoped that we could generate some additional interest in the issue.”

A housing facility debuted in April 2012 that offers dormitory rooms for 30 homeless people who have served in the military. The 8,500-square-foot building at 3614 N. Glenn Ave. is part of the Veterans Helping Veterans Heal program.

Whole Man Ministries of N.C. — a grassroots, nonprofit charitable organization — is rehabbing three duplex buildings that it bought in 2013 on Cameron Avenue in eastern Winston-Salem. The buildings will be converted to single-family dwellings, offering three bedrooms and two baths.

The city is assisting by providing 15-year term loans totaling $201,028 with a zero percent interest rate for two units on Cameron.