Kate Santich Staff Writer
December 23, 2015
At the height of the problem in 2011, Florida had the second-largest population of homeless veterans in the nation, behind California. And though some communities had been working on the issue for more than 20 years, in Orlando the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs didn't start until 2007 — and then had to play catch-up.
|Orlando Sentinel Video|
Andrae Bailey, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, said he is filing notice with the federal government this week that nearly 1,000 veterans have been housed in the past three years — including several hundred this year alone.
"Veteran homelessness has been a national disgrace," Bailey said. "But we now have this moment where we should be incredibly proud of what our community has accomplished."
In the coming weeks, the federal government is expected to review the local data and issue a determination that the region has reached "functional zero" on housing veterans considered chronically homeless — defined as more than a year or repeatedly over several years, typically because of a disability.
This year, 52 Central Floridians were remembered — including those run over by cars, murdered, suffering from diabetes and kidney failure or wrestling with severe mental illness.
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