Local organization needs help getting homeless vets off street

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 23, 2014 at 11:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 11:40 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- With freeze warnings expected across the metro area, one group is working to get homeless veterans off the street.

Veterans Housing Outreach Ministries (VHOM) says housing is available, but the organization needs your help.

"It's no way to serve our countrymen. There's no way a hero should be underneath a bridge," said Lisa Carey, director of VHOM.

On Thursday night Carey and Vietnam veteran James Johnson bundled themselves up to make a stop underneath the Ponchartrian Expressway, hoping to reach out to those with nowhere to go.

Their goal is to get veterans off the streets.

"You just don't want to be in the cold weather. Tonight is going to be so cold," Carey said to one homeless man.

The duo are part of VHOM, which has three main locations in Jefferson, St. Charles and Orleans parishes. The group provides housing, job placement and counseling services to those who've returned home.

However, the organization's veteran housing locations could use some tender loving care.

"As you can see the roof has been prepped, we need to get the shingles on the roof," said Carey touring a property on Birch Street in New Orleans which needs major upgrades before anyone can move in. Carey says volunteer help from roofers, electricians, contractors or community members could make this vacant home a liveable reality. According to Carey, once complete it could house 5 to 6 veterans.

"We need outdoor paint, we need air conditioning units for the summer time when its so hot, we need personal heaters because some of the people are a little bit sicker," said Carey.

"I've seen some things that I didn't see in the war come through here. But with limited resources you can only do so much," said Johnson.

The Army veteran has been helping other veterans at a Marrero home for five years now. The organization says donations have been scarce this year. Basics like functioning air beds, dressers and personal items have dwindled to nothing. A washer-dryer unit is on its last leg.

"When you give, you get back more in return. That's the thing that keeps me going," said Johnson of his post-retirement community service.

The organization says New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper of Harper Hope 41 Foundation recently donated paint to help spruce up veteran homes. If you'd like to help out Veterans Housing Outreach Ministries, click here.

 

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