All In to End Veteran Homelessness City Swing: Tucson

Pima County and the City of Tucson hosted three Cabinet Secretaries and the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness last week at Pima County’s Sullivan Jackson Employment Center, showcasing our collaboration to end Veteran homelessness and help people experiencing homelessness reenter the workforce.

Local elected officials accompanied Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, and USICH Executive Director Matthew Doherty on a tour of Pima County’s Sullivan Jackson Employment Center – one of three stops they were making in western states during the All In City Swing. The purpose of the visit was to learn more about the Center’s impressive record of helping people experiencing homelessness, including military veterans, return to meaningful employment. The county-funded agency also receives Federal and City of Tucson funds for its ongoing operations.

The group met with several current and former Sullivan Jackson clients to hear how the Center has helped them with job training, housing assistance, and educational opportunities to get them back on track to success and stability. Such paths are often not smooth and the clients also discussed with the Secretaries and officials the problems they experienced navigating through various programs.

Genevieve Yordani came to Sullivan Jackson as a single mother struggling to provide for herself and her child. With the help of the Center’s experts, she was able to complete a Pima Community College degree program and now has a goal of becoming a social worker.

Brandon Alexander, a Navy veteran who drifted into homelessness after his discharge, also wound up at Sullivan Jackson. “They taught me how to get a job,” he said. Alexander said that, with help, he was able to set career goals and eventually earned certification as an aviation maintenance technician.

After hearing from Sullivan Jackson clients, the group met with heads of local government and nonprofit agencies that work with people currently experiencing homelessness to help steer them in a positive direction. Also in attendance were Tucson City Council Member Regina Romero and representatives from the offices of Congressman Raúl Grijalva and Congresswoman Martha McSally.

We’re proud of the work Sullivan Jackson does with its limited resources. And we’re proud of the progress Tucson has made toward ending Veteran homelessness. As we told our visiting dignitaries, we’ve housed 1,044 formerly homeless Veterans since taking on this challenge in June 2013. With the State of Arizona cutting funds for education, job training, and other programs, support from our Federal partners is increasingly important. This visit from three members of the President’s Cabinet, and the Executive Director of USICH, was most welcome.

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