Charleston VA programs serve more than 430 homeless veterans in 2022

Charleston services provided 432 permanent housing placements to homeless Veterans last year.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:25 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:03 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston services provided 432 permanent housing placements to homeless Veterans last year. The Ralph H. Johnson Health Care System was a big part of that success.

From 2021 to 2022 the number of veterans experiencing homelessness went down nationwide by 11%. Here in Charleston, the veteran’s hospital worked hard to be a part of the solution.

Executive Director Scott Isaaks says affordable housing support from the legislature could be a big help going forward.

“We’ve got very robust programs within the medical center where we have specific care classes, other things for homeless veterans to try to get them back on their feet,” Isaaks said. “But we also partner with a lot of community partners and housing is, we believe the first thing that you have to do with homeless veterans is to find them somewhere to live.”

Permanent housing placements provided by VA staff and community partners included reconnecting them with family and finding subsidized places to rent or buy. The Health Care System participates in a ‘housing first’ approach, which prioritizes getting a Veteran into a home, then providing them with the additional support they need - like health care and job training.

“So when it comes to homelessness, there are so many reasons why someone can be homeless and veterans are no different. You know, certainly there are mental health reasons for homelessness at times but there are a lot of other reasons that go into that. We don’t care what the reason is. We want to make sure that our veterans have had a home. They served our nation,” Isaaks says.

In 2022, the VA’s nationwide goal was to house 38,000 homeless veterans. The Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System placements, along with other similar programs across the country led to 40,401 placements, meeting and exceeding its national goal by more than 6%.

“We don’t want anybody to be homeless, but certainly our specific mission is related to veterans. The reality is Charleston is a pretty expensive place to live. So, finding housing for veterans can be difficult,” Isaaks says.

He says finding funding for affordable permanent housing at the legislative level could be a huge help going forward.

“We need more housing in the area for homeless veterans, so working hard with both community partners with our, our state and local congressional groups to make sure that we have what we need to house these veterans,” Isaaks explains.

During the national ‘point in time’ data collection in January of 2022, researchers found that 33,129 veterans nationwide were experiencing homelessness. The nationwide ‘point in time’ data collection will happen Jan. 25. Those numbers will guide future goals and programs.

“The VA certainly takes the lead in many of the veteran initiatives, but we do it with great partners throughout the low country. We celebrate every freedom we celebrate because of them and the last thing that we want is for our veterans to not have a place to live so we work hard to make sure they do,” Isaaks says.

If you are a Veteran who is experiencing homelessness or at risk for homelessness, you can call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838). Or you can visit the VA Homeless Programs website to learn about housing initiatives or the Charleston Health Care programs.

To learn more about programs for homeless Veterans, click here.

For more information on the VA health care in Charleston, click here.