July 22, 2014   24 Tamuz 5774
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Supportive Housing for Homeless Veterans
Mar. 29, 2013
Many communities are faced with an influx of veterans returning from service with disabilities and broken families. Temple B'rith Kodesh networked with a Protestant Divinity School that owned an underutilized apartment building and a veterans outreach organization, obtained a $552,000 five-year HUD grant, and today 12 veterans have their own apartments and receive weekly case management.

Community Contact Information:
Temple B'rith Kodesh
Rochester, NY
http://tbk.org


Goals:
- Demonstrate that volunteers with a variety of professional skills can continue to innovate by expanding their social action program to meet changing needs.
- Demonstrate that the core Jewish value of tikkun olam can make a significant community contribution.
- Forge an alliance with another faith community.

Overview:
Many communities are faced with an influx of veterans returning from service with disabilities and broken families. Temple B'rith Kodesh networked with a Protestant Divinity School that owned an underutilized apartment building and a veterans outreach organization, obtained a $552,000 five-year HUD grant, and today 12 veterans have their own apartments and receive weekly case management.

Preparation:
Richard Rosen, President of Tempro Development Company, meets regularly with Stuart Mitchell, President of PathStone, the not-for-profit agency that provide day-to-day management of our homeless housing properties. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, where he obtained a DD degree. Mr. Mitchell mentioned that the Divinity School had a vacant apartment building, as students no longer wish to live on campus. He asked Mr. Rosen to identify a program serving the homeless for which the building could be used. At the next monthly meeting of the Regional Homeless Services Network Richard asked the assembled membership if anyone was planning to apply for HUD funding to serve homeless veterans. He was met by silence. Knowing that the deadline for applications was just five weeks away, Richard called a meeting of the Tempro Board of Directors. The Directors agreed that the number of veterans in the homeless population on the street and in shelters was a problem they could not turn their back on. Tempro Directors adopted a change in the Articles of Incorporation to allow them to serve individuals. They also set up committees of volunteers to do the required work investigating need, partnerships and funding.

Project Implementation:
Tempro, the Temple B'rith Kodesh homeless housing company, was organized in 1969 to provide emergency housing for families with children after reading in the papers that families were housed in disreputable hotels and motels in crime-ridden areas of the city. In subsequent decades, Tempro expanded and applied for and received HUD grants to provide supportive housing for homeless families. The focus had evolved to help families deal with chemical dependency and addiction, depression, and family violence. Twice weekly school tutoring by volunteers from temple and colleges was added for children. A variety of life-skills classes in parenting, shopping and cooking, health and money management were made available. Tempro currently houses 140 families with children each year, in Emergency, Transitional and Permanent supportive housing. We own 11 homes, and lease 35 apartments blended in middle class communities. The Directors organized committees to get the agreements in place and the financial commitments to make a successful application to the regional Continuum of Care agency that administers federal HUD funds. Various agencies in Rochester provide case management for homeless veterans.
A three-party Memorandum of Understanding between Temple B'rith Kodesh, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and the Veterans Outreach Center was hammered out, and we made the application. It received high ranking and a five-year grant for over half a million dollars was obtained. Tempro is obligated to make a cash match of government funds. Temple members and family foundations provide the required $8,000 per year. This leverages government funds of $110,000 per year.
The shockingly high rate of suicide among homeless vets provided strong impetus for this creative process. The conference will be held Summer 2013. As an immediate first-step the group has created a facilitated book club for the twelve veterans, utilizing the abundant literature written by veterans who find success in dealing with the problems of reintegration and personal survival. We believe we set a record: This project was conceived in April 2012, and occupancy took place in January, 2013. All the work was done by unpaid temple members.

Results:
Our congregation and the Rochester area have been exposed to a critical community need that our social action program is successfully addressing. The 17-minute video explaining the operation of Tempro's family housing programs (tbk.org/tikkun/tempro) has put a "face" on our success in helping homeless families with children. As we get to know the veterans we just started housing, we will find ways to put an engaging "face" on their rehabilitation programs. The benefits of exposing our congregation, prospective members and larger community to the needs of our society and a how volunteers can make a significant impact in addressing these needs, will have an impact on their participation in social action activities both through the temple and in the community.

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