Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced recently the award of $1.3 million in homeless prevention grants for two organizations in Arkansas. The grants will serve approximately 340 homeless and at-risk Veteran families as part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. These awards will serve Veterans families associated with St. Francis House in Little Rock and Seven Hills Homeless Center in Fayetteville; two of 319 community agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

R.D. Kinsey, of Sherwood, commander of the Michael the VA nn Johnson Jr. American Legion Post 74, North Little Rock, said he appreciates the fact that the VA wants to work on the problem of homeless veterans.

"The VA has committed to within 10 years eliminated the problem of veterans without a home," Kinsey said. "They assured us they would do everything they could to solve the problem."

Kinsey said he believes it is excellent the VA wants to tackle the problem of homeless veterans.

"Even in our post, we still see a lot of homeless veterans calling us and asking us for services," Kinsey said. "We also see veterans who are on the verge of being homeless."

Kinsey said he is pleased that St. Francis is getting the grant money, saying the Little Rock agency does a tremendous job at helping the needy.

"We work closely with St. Francis," he said. "St. Francis is a top rated program."

Shinseki said he is hopeful that the grants will help the plight of homeless veterans.

"With these grants, we are strengthening our partnership with community non-profits across the country to provide Veterans and their families with hope, a home, and a future," said Shinseki. "The work of Supportive Services for Veteran Families program grantees has already helped us prevent and end homelessness among tens of thousands of homeless Veterans and their families, but as long as a single Veteran lives on our streets, we have work to do."

Under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, the VA is awarding grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that provide services to very low-income Veteran families living in — or transitioning to — permanent housing.

Those community organizations provide a range of services that promote housing stability among eligible very low-income Veteran families.

Thanks to the SSVF grants, those community organizations will provide a range of services that promote housing stability and play a key role in connecting Veterans and their family members to the VA services such as mental health care and other benefits.

Community-based groups can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of Veterans for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.

This is the program’s third year. Last year, the VA provided about $100 million to assist approximately 50,000 Veterans and family members.

In 2009, President Obama and Shinseki announced the federal government’s goal to end Veteran homelessness in 2015. The grants are intended to help accomplish that goal. According to the 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, homelessness among Veterans has declined 17.2 percent since 2009.

Through the homeless Veterans initiative, the VA committed over $1 billion in fiscal year 2013 to strengthen programs that prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. the VA provides a range of services to homeless Veterans, including health care, housing, job training, and education.

More information about the VA ’s homeless programs is available at Details about the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program are online at Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and their family members and friends can call the VA ’s National Homeless Veterans Call Center at 1-877-4AID-VET.