Helping vets find homes

Basic needs, including shelter and clothes reach D.C.’s homeless veteran population through The Salvation Army Emergency Social Services team.

By Beverly Kwakye

From a distance, The Salvation Army Emergency Assistance office on the corner of Harvard Street in Washington, D.C., appears small with a nondescript façade. Inside, however, the organization is dedicated to being among one of the groups who help the entire D.C. community.

Program Manager & Homeless Outreach Coordinator Theresa McKillop and caseworker Paula Dyan worked with a homeless veteran, whose name won’t be used for privacy reasons, for about seven years. Through Dyan’s efforts, the social services team connected her with housing, as well as furniture, first month’s utility bills, clothing and other necessities.

The Salvation Army's Emergency Assistance and Homeless Outreach Programs, Program Manager Theresa McKillop, provides emergency financial assistance and crisis intervention to residents of the District at the Emergency Assistance office in Harvard Street D.C.

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Assistance and Homeless Outreach Programs, Program Manager Theresa McKillop, provides emergency financial assistance and crisis intervention to residents of the District at the Emergency Assistance office in Harvard Street D.C. Photo Credit: Beverly Kwakye

The woman struggled to adjust at first, McKillop said. Homeless individuals often struggle to accept their new life setting after living outside with no beds or basic housing utilities. Some even choose to sleep on the floor or by the door just for safety issues, McKillop said.

Eventually, the woman adjusted to her new living environment and landed a job through the assistance of Dyan. She continues to be employed and housed, McKillop said.

The organization’s staff say that the veteran is very thankful for her new life. She frequently comes back to the social services office to say hello and to thank the workers for their efforts, according to McKillop.

“I feel good about that,” McKillop said with a smile.

Last year, The Salvation Army provided 226,276 meals, rental assistance to 1,535 households as well as utility assistance to 3,467 families with both veteran and non-veterans. Veterans who were facing eviction due to late rent payments, or were homeless and found housing through the organization, received first month’s rent and security deposits, said McKillop.

“We help with a whole gamut of services but primarily with rental and utility assistance,” McKillop said.

Aside from helping veterans and residents with rent and utilities, the organization assists with common needs like food, clothing, burial assistance and birth certificates.

McKillop said the Salvation Army gears their services towards the needs of the community, adapting and changing as needed.

The Salvation Army’s main focus is on housing help, and because they’re serving more veterans, the organization wants additional funding to serve specifically vets, according to McKillop.

JaNese Simon, social services program coordinator for The Salvation Army, maintains the staff and makes sure that the team is giving the best quality service to the clients they serve.

“We can look at the amount of veterans we do serve and see if there is a greater need,” Simon said.

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