CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Working with landlords and property managers, the City of Charlotte, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Mecklenburg County, Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, National League of Cities, and Wells Fargo gathered inside VFW 9488 off The Plaza Wednesday to discuss the 'Housing Our Heroes' initiative to end veteran homelessness.
"Many of them have lasting wounds, not just physical, but physiological wounds from their service," said Mayor Jennifer Roberts. "It's the least that we can do as a community to step up and say you do not deserve to be homeless. The least we can do is provide a safe, decent, affordable place to live."
"You begin to get trapped in the trauma," said Army veteran Reginald Dockery, who was homeless in Charlotte for almost a year. "There is help out there and we just have to reach out to it. I think the major thing that was done here today is just connecting and being transparent and coming together."
Dockery talked about his experience and why he feels it's important to give veterans stable housing.
Peter Safir is the homeless services division director for Mecklenburg County Community Support Services.
He says the local government leaders and non-profits did two things that have really made an impact: cut down the number of steps veterans need to take to get help and find out exactly how many homeless veterans live in Charlotte.
"We thought we had about 200 at the outset; when we set up that registry, we found out we had 4- to 500. Most of whom we had assisted in finding permanent housing. We're down to 50, so it's been an incredible run in the last two-and-a-half years."
The City says they would love to work with any landlord interested in helping veterans and have a special number to call: (704) 432-5495.