Orange County Government, Florida
28 July 2015
Orange County Rallies Support for Veterans Surge
(L-R) Mayor Teresa Jacobs with Central Florida Commission on Homelessness CEO Andrae Bailey
 and Orlando Sentinel Publisher and CEO Nancy Meyer at a July 14 media briefing supporting the Veterans Surge.

Hundreds of volunteers from across the region joined the “Veterans Surge” initiative, led by the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness (CFCH), with the goal of locating and identifying every homeless veteran in the area.

The Veterans Surge initiative, held during the week of July 20, is a means of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness is working in collaboration with the local Veterans Affairs (VA), the nonprofit Homeless Services Network (HSN), faith organizations, community leaders and other nonprofits agencies.

“Especially for our military veterans, and families with children, we must maintain our commitment to impacting homelessness for everyone in need,” said Mayor Jacobs, co-chair of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.

Volunteers participated in mandatory training before forming teams to visit identified locations to collect data from the homeless. Data collected will be placed in a registry that will allow the VA to verify eligibility, match veterans to national VA programs and follow up when housing becomes available.

The Orange County Veterans Services Office continues to work with all veterans, dependents and survivors to ensure that they receive all the benefits they earned, including medical care, vocational training, compensation for service-related injury and illness, referrals and financial assistance.

This year alone, the VA and Department of Housing and Urban Development will spend nearly $13.5 million on housing homeless veterans in the Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, according to the VA and CFCH. Since 2010, when the White House announced the goal of ending veteran homelessness, Central Florida has worked diligently to house hundreds of Central Florida’s homeless veterans and their families.

For decades, Orange County has been the leading provider of homeless services, budgeting more than $5 million annually. Earlier this year, Orange County committed another $2 million to that annual amount, and partnered with the Homeless Services Network, the City of Orlando and others to help attract new federal grants to house the chronically homeless.

Recently, Orange County added 40 more chronically homeless housing units to those already being provided. For all those in need, and especially our Veterans, to whom our debt can never be fully repaid, Central Florida is committed to impacting homelessness.