Helping homeless veterans

November 11, 2008 4:48:30 PM PST
They served their country, but their situation has turned desperate since then.But the department of Housing and Urban Development is trying to save their dignity, and give them shelter at the same time.

Cynthia Armstrong is one of six homeless Philadelphia military vets given HUD vouchers to subsidize their housing costs. The post-Vietnam era army vet wound up homeless with post traumatic stress syndrome after serving.

"There was military sexual trauma, I was.... My life was a mess," Armstrong said.

61-year-old George Smith traces his drinking problems back to liquor he bought with Army vouchers while in Vietnam.

"They used to give us vouchers to buy alcohol. With those vouchers we would buy 6 fifths of alcohol every month," Smith said.

He returned to South Philadelphia alcohol and drug addicted. He felt hopeless, and wound up homeless.

"Sometimes I slept on the street. Sometimes I slept in friends houses when I could. I slept in abandoned cars," Smith told Action News. "Then I decided to get myself together."

He has secured an apartment in Olney with his subsidized housing voucher. It will cover $500 of the $700 rent.

To get vouchers, vets must be psychologically screened and agree to case management. While 7 have qualified so far, HUD allocated 105 section 8 housing vouchers for Philadelphia's homeless vets.

About 25% of the cities homeless are military veterans.

One vet showcased the keys to the apartment that have given him a new lease on life.

The vets, all now clean, sober and living in transitional housing, are pursuing education and jobs.

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