Serving those who've served the nation
Jericho Project started life in 1983 working to help people with histories of addiction reconnect to the community; today, with 500 units of supportive housing, the organization serves a broad range of vulnerable New Yorkers. In recent years, the organization has expanded its scope to address another group of New Yorkers in need: homeless veterans.
In 2011, Jericho opened two supportive housing residences to serve those who’ve served the United States -- Fordham Village and Kingsbridge Terrace. The buildings, both located in the Bronx, contain a total of 132 supportive housing units. Jericho operates an additional 45 units of veteran supportive housing in locations across New York City.
“There hasn’t been enough focus on homeless veterans in the past,” says Tori Lyon, the executive director of Jericho Project. “The VA can’t do it all, nor should they. Everybody should be doing something to end veteran homelessness. It should be a national priority.”
Jericho’s Veterans Initiative spawned from a chance encounter between Lyon and representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lyon happened to sit next to several VA officials during an event on homelessness in 2004. Over lunch, Lyon was stunned to learn about the high rates of homelessness among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Soon after, she began to research how Jericho could better aid those who’ve served abroad.
“I found out there were already soldiers coming back from Iraq who were homeless,” she remembers. “It was pretty alarming.”
After some strategic planning, Jericho officially launched its Veterans Initiative in 2006. The organization found suitable locations in the Bronx, purchased the land and began construction on the first building in 2009 and the second in 2010. The residences offer veterans access to full-time social workers, career counseling, peer counseling, computer equipment and other resources to help ease the transition back from overseas.
Around this same time, Jericho also began its Veterans Supportive Apartments Program. This initiative helps those with Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers find appropriate housing. Jericho furnishes the 45 apartments, covers the security deposit and offers employment and educational training. The first program’s first tenants — an Iraq veteran with a family of five — moved into their Bronx apartment in late 2009.
“This generation of veterans faces extraordinary challenges in returning home,” says Lyon. “High combat stress resulting in the invisible wounds of modern war, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, more female veterans with special needs and family responsibilities and a difficult economy. We are ready to help.”
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