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Homelessness ends among veterans in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Mayor Joines says

Homelessness ends among veterans in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Mayor Joines says
October 29
00:00 2015

Above: Mayor Allen Joines speaks to members of the press and community during a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 26. Joines announced that Winston-Salem and Forsyth County have reached their goal of ending veterans’ homelessness. (Photo by Tevin Stinson)

By Tevin Stinson
The Chronicle

The fight against homelessness in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County received some good news earlier this week.
Less than one year after making Winston-Salem a member of the Veterans Housing Network challenge of ending veterans’ homelessness in the area, the city and county has reached their goal.

The initiative, which is organized by the National League of Cities, challenged municipalities around the country to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Mayor Allen Joines was the first mayor in North Carolina to sign up for the challenge.

He announced that Winston-Salem and Forsyth County had met the challenge of ending veteran homelessness.

“We wanted to wait until it was official,” said Joines. “We actually received confirmation on Oct. 6 that we had met our goal.”
Winston-Salem is the first city in North Carolina to meet the challenge.

Matthew Doherty, executive director, confirmed that the city and county had met the U.S. Interagency Council’s mark. Resources are now in place to rapidly find permanent housing for anyone identified as a homeless veteran.

During a press conference at City Hall, Joines said ending veteran homelessness in the area would not have been possible without the help of a number of partners. Those agencies included the United Way of Forsyth County, Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, The Salvation Army, North Carolina Housing Foundation and the Veterans Administration.

“There’s an old African proverb,” Joines noted, “that says when enough spider webs come together, you can tie down a lion,” he continued. “We had a lot of spider webs here to tie down this lion.

“Having these partnerships have really been a game-changer for us.”

The city of Winston-Salem began tracking the number of homeless veterans in 2007. At that time, 15 percent of all homeless people in the area were veterans. By 2014 that number had dropped to 8 percent.

Veteran Tracy Bradford said she was grateful for all the generosity shown by the United Way, Salvation Army, and a number of other programs offered throughout the city.

“I’ve been the recipient of many, many blessings from all these programs,” she said. “I just thank God for all the people that work hard to help veterans like myself.”

Bradford reminded those who attended the press conference that homelessness can happen to anyone at any time.

“In 1986, I worked for a company that had the third most assets in the nation,” she said. “I never thought I would be homeless but it happened, and it can happen to anyone.”

“Through this process, I have gained a lot of knowledge about people in this industry who are willing to help anyway they can.”

Although the mayor was excited to have met the goal, he said ending veterans’ homelessness is just a small part of the city’s ultimate goal of ending all chronic homelessness.

“This is a great milestone for our community, that we can say proudly that we have ended veterans’ homelessness, but we will not stop here,” he said. “We will continue this fight until we have put and end to all homelessness in the area.”

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