June 21, 2012
To promote the federal government's accomplishments in reducing veterans homelessness, over 350 participants attended an event on the great lawn of the Adam "Bucky" James Community Center of the Long Branch Housing Authority on June 21st. Over 300 successful participants in the HUD-VASH program were honored at the ceremony, joined by HUD Newark Office Director Diane Johnson, VA Homeless Services Director Vic Carlson, and Long Branch City Council President Kathleen Billings. Also attending were representatives of the NJ Department of Community Affairs, Senator Frank Lautenberg's Office, Congressman Frank Pallone's Office, several veteran serving organizations, and the Housing Authorities of Jersey City, Paterson, New Brunswick, Camden, Perth Amboy, and Pleasantville. HUD Newark Senior Management Analyst Carleton Lewis and Public Housing Revitalization Specialist Patrick Morris were key participants in the planning for the ceremony. In her remarks, Ms. Johnson highlighted the Obama Administration's commitment to end veterans' homelessness by 2015, and spoke about the great partnership HUD has created with the VA's New Jersey Health Care System, at both the Lyons and East Orange campuses. Dr. Carlson discussed the VA's services for veterans, and also noted the close working relationship that has been established between HUD and the VA to assist veterans. A U.S. Marine color guard marched the veterans to their seats, where they heard federal, state and local officials thank them for their service to our county and congratulate them for their success in the HUD-VASH program, which has moved them from homelessness to permanent housing with strong supportive case management. Many of the speakers pledged to redouble their outreach and services to meet the goal of ending veterans' homelessness. The event included lunch and opportunities for the veterans to meet with representatives of the partnering agencies. To date, New Jersey has leased up over 95% of the 610 HUD-VASH vouchers issued before 2011.