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      New program targets homeless vets

      The Veterans Affairs Office, in partnership with the Harlingen Housing Authority, announced a new program to help out Valley veterans who are homeless.

      The program is part of a national campaign to end homelessness among the nation TMs veterans.

      Pete Bustamante is local homelessness coordinator for the Veteran TMs Affairs Office in Harlingen.

      In the two months he has worked in the Valley he has noticed just how big that problem is in the Valley.

      "I'm aware of 32-33 veterans that may be eligible for the program, he said. And that's not counting the countless numbers I haven't made contact with."

      They are veterans that at one point sacrificed their time for the country, but are now down on their luck. This new program is hoping to change that.

      "Well this is very important because it TMs going to allow us to house 25 families, said Blas Cantu, he is the executive director of the Harlingen Housing Authority (HHA). The key to is that it has to be a veteran in the veterans family."

      Many of the details are still being worked out between the two groups. However, they have begun taking applications. "First of all, you have to be eligible to get health benefits through the VA," Bustamante said.

      In addition to being registered with the Veteran TMs Affairs Office, potential applicants must also have a physical or mental disability, he added.

      Afterwards, they will be referred to the HHA who will do their own screening.

      Their criterion is dependant on income eligibility and a clean background.

      "They can choose whatever part of town they want to be in, Cantu said. They can choose the apartment. We will qualify them for an apartment depending on the family size."

      Even though the program will select only 25 families, Bustamante added that the more people that register, the more likely these types of programs will be awarded to the Valley.

      For more information on the program, or to get assistance, contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838).