The Department of Labor has announced they are expanding their Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP) funding.
Berkeley Food & Housing Project has been an HVRP provider in the counties of Solano and Contra Costa, since 2016, this additional funding will allow us to bring these much-needed employment services to Alameda and Sacramento counties as well.
As part of our Roads Home program for veterans and their families, the goal of this program is to ensure our veteran clients are able to simultaneously earn a stable income while benefiting from housing services. To achieve this, our HVRP team works closely with the housing arm of Roads Home. Together they provide wraparound services to homeless veterans, ensuring that they have all the tools they need to get back on their feet.
Some of the most common challenges faced by our clients are physical or mental disabilities, gaps in employment, and lack of education or skills. Many clients are coming from living on the streets and have been unemployed and unhoused for a significant period of time. Many have a history of work that involves hard manual labor, but due to disability or aging, they can no longer perform such physically taxing work. We work with the client to prepare them for jobs that they are able to do. Some of the best fields for the veterans we work with are: security guard, delivery driver, and dispatcher.
When a client first comes to us, we sit down with them one-on-one to create a plan to get them to where they want to go. Some of the things that we can do to help prepare veterans for employment include: specific skills training such as computer proficiency, helping them get their GED, and signing them up for certification or licensing.
HVRP will work with clients for a full year to help them find a job and then once they are employed we will be there to check in with them on a monthly basis for an additional year to make sure they are able to retain their employment.
As part of this program, we also organize job fairs where we bring together veterans and prospective employers in the area. What makes this different to other job fairs is that each of the represented employers are already willing to hire formerly homeless veterans. Many are even specifically looking for employees with a military background.
We believe patience, persistence, and partnership are the keys to helping veterans overcome the initial barriers of homelessness and unemployment. With this program we are able to work with each client individually to help them address their specific challenges and rejoin society.