Veterans are special individuals who have dedicated their lives to serving our country. They often have unique and complex needs. A veteran who is experiencing homelessness can be linked directly to London Cares for immediate support.
As the primary case manager, our housing stability workers who support veterans have partnerships and connections to local specialized supports and can bridge the connection through intensive case management. We work closely with Veterans Affairs Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion, and St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Operational Stress Injury Clinic.
We have worked diligently to establish and build working relationships, better understand each other’s services and systems, and coordinate a complex system to have veterans feel like they have a seamless experience. The work done behind the scenes to ensure veterans receive all the benefits they so richly deserve creates a positive experience and a successful integration back from street to home. The commitment to a systems approach with veterans’ needs in the forefront builds credibility with veterans and more trust in the system.
A Quality By-Name List was created specifically for veterans experiencing homelessness in London. This provided an opportunity to identify veterans within our community who required support obtaining and maintaining housing. Through frequent and ongoing connection and communication, the partnering agencies were able to quickly identify an individual, confirm their service, and link them into community supports. Efforts to identify veterans within our community is a collective approach, which includes ensuring intake procedures within community-based outreach programs, emergency shelters, and the London Police Service are asking individuals, “Have you served?” Once an individual identifies themselves as a veteran, the partnering agencies work quickly (often with 48-72 hours) to verify their service and connect them to community supports.
In order to support a veteran with long-term housing stability, London Cares, through the City of London, offers a housing allowance which is paid directly to the landlord each month, making the rental unit more affordable for the tenant. Veterans can then be supported in applying for other federal housing benefits, rent-geared-to-income housing, or disability awards, which may increase their income over time.
Support and involvement with the London Cares program is not a “one size fits all” model – each veteran is a unique individual, and their support needs and support plans are uniquely theirs. The programs are voluntary and participant driven – goals are set and identified in tandem with the veteran and their supports. This requires commitment, follow up, and perseverance by everyone involved to reach these goals. Navigating a complex system specific to veteran resources and supports is not easy and requires building and maintaining specialized relationships with each community partner.
There are a number of supports and resources available to veterans, however, navigating this complex system can be intimidating and challenging. By having a strong network and professional relationships, we are able to support veterans in applying for disability awards, mental health support, physical health support, access to whatever housing they need, whether it’s private market housing, assisted living, long-term care, etc. For many veterans, they may not be aware of the resources available or often assume their service and experience doesn’t qualify them for supports.
Through ongoing support and case management, along with system navigation and follow up, we ensure veterans are connected with the right resources at the right time. This process can be extensive, and it can often take several months to navigate the various systems and supports available. Often times, our housing stability workers navigate this system while simultaneously supporting veterans in maintaining their housing stability. Service systems can be complex and multi-faceted, requiring a high level of systems knowledge, advocacy, and tenacity.