Summit in Fresno aims to help homeless veterans

FRESNO, Calif.

Ending homelessness is something the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs knows it can't do alone. On Friday, agencies across the area met in Fresno to shed light on an issue that has impacted veterans.

"When they come back from a situation where there was a war, a lot of times they come back and they've lost their jobs lot of times, they've had some mental health issues. So a lot of times they fall through the cracks," Veteran Affairs Chief of Social Work, Lisa Canty said.

That is something veteran advocates want to change. At the Veterans Homeless Summit, agencies worked together to find a way to streamline services to help veterans get the help they need.

"And we kind of brainstorm more creative ways on how we can identify putting veterans in houses quicker and the services we provide. So not only healthcare but getting them in a safe housing environment so by working together and events like this we're able to exchange information and move people through the system a little quicker," Canty said.

Officials identified about 700 homeless people in Fresno and 500 of them are veterans.

"It's a big issue for us right now, especially with the encampments and the things that are going on," Preston Yanez, Veteran Affairs Homeless Program Coordinator said.

The City of Fresno has been dismantling homeless encampments around Downtown Fresno due to safety and health hazards, forcing the homeless to pack up and find somewhere to go. The VA says it is reaching out to many of those people.

"Working aggressively to contact our veterans and placed them into emergency housing and permanent housing so that way we could better their lives," Preston Yanez, Veteran Affairs Homeless Program Coordinator said.

And since they already put their lives on the line for this country, advocates say finding them safe shelter is the least we can do.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.