Bill Aims to Help Homeless Veterans on Long Island

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A new initiative seeks to make sure veterans don't wind up homeless after they return home. Greg Cergol reports. (Published Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014)

    The county that's home to the highest number of veterans in New York state has launched a new initiative to find a home for every homeless vet.

    Suffolk County legislator Steve Stern has proposed the Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act, a series of four bills that would require county officials to document the number of homeless vets, then make it easier for them to find housing and get other help to stay off the street.

    "When a soldier goes off to protect the ground that we stand on, it is unacceptable that he or she should have to come to home to sleep on it," Stern said while announcing the initiative in Hauppauge Monday, surrounded by elected officials, veterans and their advocates.

    Suffolk County is home to roughly 89,000 veterans, according to the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency. Hundreds of those vets are homeless, including at least 850 across Long Island.

    "We were living in the car and pawning everything we owned," said Amy Uri, a Navy veteran of four years.

    Months after leaving the Navy, Uri was forced to live on the street with her teenage daughter when she was unable to find a job.

    "It was like the twilight zone," Uri said. "You didn't think it could get any worse and it would."

    Last week, Uri's nightmare ended when veterans advocates helped her land a job as a medical technician and find an apartment in Island Park. Suffolk officials hope their efforts can helps others like Uri.

    Suffolk's legislature is expected to vote on the bills this fall.

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