The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded two grants of $1.4 million and $2 million to Wyoming to prevent homelessness among veterans.
Announced Monday, the grant will fund services provided by the Southwest Wyoming Recovery Access Program, or SW-WRAP, like housing counseling, legal assistance, temporary financial assistance, and childcare for veterans and their families.
Cathie Hughes, founder and CEO of SW-WRAP, said that making these services visible is one of the biggest challenges.
“These are our residents. These are our neighbors our sisters our brothers our cousins our relatives. These are our family,” she said. “And it’s one step at a time so I think the largest challenge is giving them confidence and giving them hope to know they do now have a safety net.”
About 60 percent of Wyoming veterans who use the program’s services are homeless.
“So those are the ones that are actually living in a place that are not suitable for habitation at any level. So even if one is couch hopping or living with a family or friend, they’re not considered homeless,” said Hughes.
Currently SW-WRAP services reach about 48 percent of Wyoming. The $2 million grant will go to expand services into the rest of Wyoming and into parts of South Dakota, areas that currently have no similar programs. SW-WRAP hopes to reach 605 veteran households by the end of this year.
The grant is part of a $300 million dollar award given to organizations across the country. The funds will reach around 115,000 homeless and at-risk US veterans.