On any given night, a homeless veteran can find themselves seeking out safe shelter in unconventional risky places.
“If it’s not them staying in the woods it could be them sleeping in a warehouse,” said Leslie Jackson, Executive Director of Senior Housing and Resource Management (SHRM), a non-profit focused on helping at risk populations gain access to appropriate care and housing options. “Those are very unsafe alternatives for any person.”
Currently there are about 2500 veterans living below the poverty line in Charleston, South Carolina, according to the Housing Assistance Council.
Leslie launched Lowcountry Veterans Home, a Charleston based transitional housing program for veterans located in Johns Island, with the goal in mind to provide South Carolina veterans with safe shelter that provided life skills learning while securing placement into the workforce.
Before getting into the nonprofit industry, she spent years helping veterans in Charleston navigate through care and housing options. This is SHRM’s first community development project.
“I decided it was time for me to lean into the problem instead of turning away from it,” she said. “I know this program is just a drop in a bucket compare to the biggest problem but hopefully our it’s a start.”
Currently South Carolina has about 500 homeless veterans, according to the Housing Assistance Council.
The house will be home to 15 veterans enrolled into a 90-day program that offers them life skill training and placement into the workforce. A portion of this project was funded by a community facilities loan from South Carolina Community Loan Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution providing equitable access to capital and financing projects and small businesses that build healthy, resilient South Carolina communities.
“What is amazing about this project is the impact that it will have on generations,” said Leslie. “The life tools these veterans learned at our home are things that can teach to their families for generations. This is a model we can use to help other at-risk populations as well.”