PATERSON, NJ - Today, Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) was joined by local veterans along with representatives of Catholic Charities of the Dioceses Paterson and Archdioceses of Newark to announce that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has awarded a $1.7 million federal grant to Catholic Charities' Catholic Family and Community Service (CFCS) in Paterson that will fund a major expansion of service available to New Jersey veterans. The federal grant will allow Paterson-based CFCS to become a primary provider of services to very-low income veterans and their families who are homeless or about to be without permanent housing in seven New Jersey Counties, including Bergen and Passaic, while convening a task force of local service providers to address unmet needs among veterans.
“Catholic Family and Community Service provides much needed services to veterans at risk of becoming homeless," said Rep. Pascrell. "By assisting those veterans in keeping their homes during difficult financial times, Catholic Family and Community Service is helping fulfill this nation’s commitment to our bravest men and women. This federal grant will allow CFCS to expand their services to my district in Bergen and Hudson Counties, and help more deserving veterans throughout Northern New Jersey. Our brave men and women in uniform sacrificed so much protecting our country and deserve every available resource as they return to civilian life."
Today's announcement took place at the inaugural meeting of the Northern New Jersey Veteran Services Advisory Consortium - a task force convened by CFCS to better identify and coordinate veteran services in Northern New Jersey. The task force will include the County Human Service providers for each county, the city of Paterson Human Services and Housing authority staff and nonprofits that work with veterans from each region.
Through the VA grant, CFCS will now be able to provide housing assistance for veterans in coordination with local organizations to assist the needs of veterans throughout Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Morris, Sussex, Essex, and Union Counties. The grant is a part of the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) Program that helps the VA in its fight against veteran homelessness and rapidly re-housing those who have recently fallen into homelessness.
Since 2011, CFCS has assisted veterans by finding housing for them and their families and through other various programs including assistance with healthcare, financial planning, transportation, childcare and legal services under its Community Support Services Department.
"Catholic Family and Community Service is excited to be able to continue to serve our veterans population," said Diane Silbernagel, Executive Director of Catholic Family and Community Services. "We believe that by combining resources from both of the Catholic Charities of Paterson and Newark we will provide a comprehensive array of services to veterans and their families."
This is the third year SSVF grants have helped veterans and their families find or remain in their homes. Last year, VA provided about $100 million to assist approximately 50,000 veterans and family members. Nearly 90 percent of the veterans who completed the program in 2012 transitioned to permanent housing. In 2009, President Obama and Secretary Shinseki announced the federal government’s goal to end veterans’ homelessness in 2015. This is the first year CFCS has applied for a grant that would be administered in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Morris, Sussex, Essex, and Union Counties.
In February 2013, Congressman Pascrell wrote a letter to the VA’s Center on Homelessness Among Veterans National Director John Kuhn detailing the project and requesting VA support:
February 1, 2013
Mr. John Kuhn
Support Services for Veteran Families Program Office
National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans
4100 Chester Avenue, Suite 201
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Dear Mr. Kuhn,
Please allow me to express my continuing support for the Catholic Family and Community Services’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program.
As you know, the plight of our military service men and women has been a top priority for me throughout my 16 years in Congress. My district office in Paterson, New Jersey collaborates on a daily basis with various federal and local agencies to provide the best available services to struggling and low-income veteran families throughout the Northern New Jersey area. According to recent data, the number of homeless veterans in and around this area of our State measures in the hundreds. This is unacceptable and the need for assistance here in my Congressional District cannot be overstated.
I am proud of my longstanding partnership with the Catholic Family and Community Services organization. Each year, the agency provides essential homeless prevention services to low-income veteran families including intensive case management services, temporary financial assistance, housing placement and numerous other supportive services. Catholic Family and Community Services has already made great strides in expanding their work with veterans in our area. Since October of last year, the organization has been a part of the SSVF Program as a sub-grantee of Community Hope, Inc.
I respectfully ask that you give strong consideration to the Catholic Family and Community Services organization, within all applicable rules and regulations. I thank you for the continued efforts of your organization and look forward to working together on addressing these critical needs in the future. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress