Since 2013, the Legal Clinic has partnered with Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF) to meet the legal needs of homeless veterans in Indiana. Celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, HVAF has come a long way from their first housing project when they established a residence for five homeless veterans. In 2017 alone, they served more than 1300. Bryan Dysert, Director of Programs and Services at HVAF, says, “[We have the] capacity to house 158 veterans on any given night. And while they’re in that program, they’re receiving case management services, employment services, legal services—really anything that they need to get back to self-sufficiency.”
The partnership with the Clinic was borne out of both organizations having the same kind of collaborative vision for serving veterans. “We knew that a lot of our guys struggled with legal barriers. And these barriers were preventing them from finding employment or preventing them from finding housing,” says Bryan. Currently, Clinic Staff Attorney Matthew Gaudin spends his Mondays at HVAF, meeting with veterans and working directly with their case managers to coordinate services. “Our work with [the Clinic] has been seamless. Our veterans don’t slip through the cracks,” Bryan says.
In addition to legal services; various types of housing services; and a food, clothing, and hygiene pantry, HVAF also provides robust employment services for their veterans. “Our employment specialists do everything they can to help veterans get into meaningful work,” Bryan says. “Everything from helping them write resumes to job interview skills, budgeting, and financial literacy … all very individualized by what he or she might need with the end goal of getting them employed in a position that they actually want and will succeed in.”
With the help of several grants, HVAF will be launching exciting new programs in the coming months that will help expand their services. Bryan says, “We’ve never really been able to effectively or efficiently serve veterans currently exiting incarceration because they are not considered homeless.” Some of this new funding will help to change that.
Through their Supportive Services for Veterans and Families (SSVF) program, HVAF can provide assistance not just to homeless veterans, but also to members of their family as well. Bryan tells a particularly memorable story of a veteran who had a wife and a toddler. “They were homeless, sleeping in their car. They really had no options—didn’t really have any guidance. Kind of just lost, floating in the wind,” he says. “We were able to get them enrolled in one of our rapid re-housing programs and were actually able to find a landlord and get them moved into a unit that very same day.” Although not all cases move that swiftly, these kinds of successes remind Bryan why he loves his work. “Stories like that can be really powerful and make you realize that there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good work in our community,” he says. “And it’s really cool to see that.”
To learn more about HVAF, please visit their website.