Larry Hutchison, a Marine Corps Veteran who served in the Vietnam War, has been homeless off and on in Mesa over the past 30 years. Sober for 10 years, Hutchison now has an apartment as a result of Housing Mesa's Heroes, a partnership involving the City of Mesa, Community Bridges Inc., Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness, Veterans Administration (VA) and numerous other community organizations with a goal to end veteran homelessness in Mesa in 2015.
"In March, the City of Mesa joined a nationwide effort to end veteran's homelessness," Mayor John Giles said. "Celebrating Mr. Hutchison's move in today is a testament to all that can be accomplished when a community comes together and focuses its efforts on worthy causes such as this. I am so happy for Mr. Hutchison, proud of everyone who helped make today a reality and look forward to continuing the effort."
Housing Mesa's Heroes was formed after Mayor Giles accepted the Mayor's Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and appointed Councilmember Chris Glover and Councilmember Kevin Thompson as co-chairs of the initiative.
"Today we have the opportunity to make a real difference in a veteran's life and that is a special feeling," Councilmember Glover said. "Thanks to the collaborative efforts of City of Mesa staff and countless community partners, the Housing Mesa's Heroes initiative has been a great way to engage and re-engage
with our veteran community. I am excited because this is only the first of many move-in celebrations."
As part of the program, the City assists homeless veterans by providing Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing (VASH) vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which offers rental assistance while the VA offers case management and clinic services. Hutchison, who received the keys to his apartment this week, also received assistance from Community Bridges, which employs navigators to provide services to homeless veterans throughout the valley. Those services include working with the VA to help them find jobs, making sure homeless veterans schedule and keep doctor appointments and getting them into substance abuse treatment programs.
"I couldn't be more proud of the job our staff, our partners and our community have done to get this ball rolling," Councilmember Thompson said. "I'm excited that we get to make a difference in someone's life and it makes it even more special knowing that we are able to help a fellow veteran."
Since 2010, there has been a 33 percent reduction on homelessness among veterans following the federal government's launch of Opening Doors, a strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. This reduction has been achieved through a partnership between the federal government, local governments, non-profit organizations and the private sector - making the elimination of veteran homelessness an achievable goal.
Anyone interested in donating to help end veteran homelessness through the Housing Mesa's Heroes program should contact Lori Eastin at Community Bridges, Inc.at LEastin@cbridges.com or (480) 831-7566.
Office of the Mayor and City Council
Public Information & Communications
Sept. 2, 2015
Contact: Melissa Randazzo
Contact: Randy Policar
Housing Mesa's Heroes is a partnership involving City of Mesa Police Department; City of Mesa Fire and Medical Department; City of Mesa Office of Diversity; City of Mesa Housing and Community Development; City of Mesa Parks, Recreation and Commercial Facilities; Community Bridges Inc.; Phoenix Veterans Affairs Department; Veterans Affair's Medical Center Phoenix; Veterans Affairs Southeast Clinic; Phoenix VA Community Resources and Referral Center; Paz de Cristo; Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness; Save the Family; MARC Community Resources; Cloudbreak Communities; A New Leaf; Office of Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema; Office of Congressman Matt Salmon; Arizona Department of Veterans Services; Arizona Veterans Group; East Valley Chapter 8 DAV Mesa; Mesa Chamber of Commerce; VFW Post 1760; Central Christian Church and Veterans Court Mentor Project.