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Housing Commission Announces More Help For Homeless Veterans

Aired 5/24/13 on KPBS News.

Soon 185 fewer homeless veterans will be stuck on San Diego's streets. The city's housing commission announced it will receive that many more vouchers this year, but its more than just a housing voucher program.

— For years, Army veteran Rodrigo Castillo Sewell was without a home.

Mayor Filner says "homeless veteran" should not be in our vocabulary.

He had injured his leg in the military, and after his honorable discharge, he turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain.

Eventually, he was unable to hold down a job. But then a shelter introduced him to a program that turned his life around.

"I have a place of my own instead of living in a cardboard box in El Cajon off the freeway for two years," he said at a press conference announcing more help for homeless veterans.

The San Diego Housing Commission will receive additional housing vouchers for homeless veterans, increasing the number available to 620. Funded by the federal government, the voucher is distributed by the housing commission, but eligibility is determined by the San Diego VA.

The VA's chief of social work, Jessica Chamberlain said the program is unique because it targets veterans suffering from chronic homelessness.

"It is not simply a housing voucher program," she said. "The VA provides case managers to work closely with the veteran throughout the entire process of transitioning from homelessness to becoming housed."

Army vet Rodrigo also received job training through the housing commission, and was able to get back on his feet.

Now, 185 more veterans will get the same chance as he did.

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