FT. LAUDERDALE — A new Department of Veterans Affairs program is working to move homeless veterans from the streets into permanent housing.
Locally, Hope South Florida is running the 3-year pilot program, with a grant of more than $1 million. One of Hope South Florida’s first clients is Laquita Branch, who served three years in the U.S. Army. Branch told CBS 4 News that she recently fell on hard times due to some bad decisions and a troubled relationship.
“I was homeless from September (2012) to February 1,” she explained.
Branch says she stayed nights in several Broward parks and asked her mother to take care of her children, Dakota, 9, and Gloria, 2, while she got her life together.
“I wasn’t too happy about it because I miss my girls, I love my girls,” Branch said. “I felt it wasn’t gonna be safe for my girls.”
Finally a door opened. Laquita found a job at a warehouse filling orders for convenience stores and someone mentioned the Hope4Vets program that could provide a temporary rental subsidy for Laquita get housing.
“It’s a lifeline,” she said. “It saved me from really sinking.”
Branch is grateful to be reunited with her daughters.
“It was the best day of my life,” she said. “I was crying and happy all at the same time.”
Branch’s daughters have their own room and lots of quality time with mom. Hope South Florida says Laquita is working with a case manager to make sure her transition is permanent.
“The idea is to get a person into their own apartment, get them stable and then they take over the lease and it becomes their home,” said Hope South Florida Executive Director Robin Martin.
Branch is confident that she will thrive in the program, which she believe values giving others a chance to better their lives.
“Help other people,” she said. “Don’t just always think about yourself and that’s basically what this whole program is based on — selfless service.”
Hope South Florida says they’ve found housing for 18 veterans and their families and they hope to house even more as the 3 year program moves forward. The hope is that veterans like Laquita will become completely self sufficient. There are more than two dozen similar Veterans Affairs grants in cities throughout the United States.