TCOG plans to help more homeless veterans

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Officials with the Texoma Council of Governments say nearly 10 percent of the homeless population in Texoma are veterans.

Many live on the streets and go from shelter to shelter but one organization is working to help provide them with permanent housing.

TCOG officials say helping our veterans should be a top priority in the community, that is why they have been working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans to help out our homeless veterans get back on track to a normal life.

Since 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, or VASH, has been helping veterans like Steve Norby get back on their feet.

"I'm living a great life filled with purpose," Norby said. "Everyday is a good day."

It wasn't always good.

The navy veteran says after he left the service, he faced problems with money, alcohol, and depression.

That downward spiral led to life on the streets, constantly moving from shelter to shelter.

"I went seriously down at one point and went far far down," Norby said.

Things turned around for Norby when the Texoma Council of Governments came to him and awarded him with one of 25 vouchers for the HUD-VASH program, helping him get a home of his own.

The program's goal is to provide homeless vets with Section 8 housing, as well as helping them with other VA benefits.

Now, TCOG has been awarded 25 more vouchers to help even more veterans in need.

"Housing and having a place of your own is very important and the VASH gave me the opportunity to have that," said Norby. "It's not an opportunity I would have had otherwise."

Rayleen Bingham, TCOG Section 8 Program Manager, says the award of 25 more vouchers is a blessing.

Usually communities only receive around 10-15 vouchers.

"This offers stability for them and that's something some of them haven't had in a long time when they come to us," Norby said. "Stability means they can focus on other things now that they have a roof over their head now."

TCOG Executive Director, Susan Thomas, says the award of more vouchers would not have been possible without the community's support.

"The community stepped up in tremendous fashion in the last round of vouchers and provided items, clothes, linens, toiletries, and everything that veteran needed to make that house a home," Thomas said.

Veterans for the HUD-VASH program are chosen by a VA case manager.

For more information on this progam, contact the Texoma Council of Governments

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