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Federal grant dollars secured for Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down

by KATE HESTON
Daily Inter Lake | September 2, 2023 12:00 AM

Funding to provide veterans with access to transitional housing and case management services is coming to Kalispell, according to officials with Sen. Jon Tester’s office.

Drawn from the Veterans Affairs Department’s Grant and Per Diem Program, which aids former servicemen and women suffering from homelessness, the dollars are headed to four Montana locations, including the Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down.

A stand down typically is an event that provides supplies and services to homeless veterans including food, shelter, clothing, health screenings and VA Social Security benefits counseling. The name came out of the Vietnam War, when soldiers would stand down and rest, eat and receive medical care in a safe environment.

The Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down, founded by Allen and Linda Erickson, began in 1999.

“The men and women who risk their lives to defend our country deserve to be treated with dignity when they come home, and that starts with ensuring each and every one of them has a safe roof over their head,” said Tester in an Aug. 30 statement.

Tester, a Democrat, serves as chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Fort Peck Housing Authority in Fort Peck, The Poverello Center in Missoula and the Volunteers of America Northern Rockies in Billings also were grant awardees, according to Tester’s office.

There is $257 million available in the Grant and Per Diem program for funding locations across the nation to help homeless and at-risk veterans.

“We’ve got to keep connecting folks with the tools they need to succeed here at home, and that’s why I’m proud to have helped secure these critical resources to help tackle veteran homelessness in Montana,” Tester said.

The purpose of the transitional housing part of the program is to help homeless veterans achieve stability and increase their skills by promoting the development and provision of supportive housing. Money going towards case management supports housing retention for veterans who were previously homeless who are transitioning to permanent housing.

The awarded organizations will receive reimbursements through a pre-set rate. The grant guarantees that these organizations ensure their programming is approved by the VA.

ABOUT $11 million was recently awarded to the Volunteers of America Northern Rockies and Veterans Inc. as well. The funds are a portion of the nearly $800 million from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, which helps rehouse veterans and their families to prevent homelessness.

“The senator’s hard work has and will continue to have a powerful impact on the ability to rapidly rehouse and prevent homelessness among veterans in Montana,” said Jeff Holsinger, chief executive officer of Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, in a statement.

The money came from fiscal year 2023’s budget; Congress is currently working on plans for the 2024 fiscal year.

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 458-7759.