Federal funding for homeless veterans being cut

(Indiana Statehouse Newsroom) - They're walking around the streets of our hometown and they need help. Federal funding for homeless veterans is being cut and the effects are being felt across Indiana.

Michael Tran is a 28-years-old, homeless US Army Veteran.

He served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He used to help homeless veterans before his life turned.

Michael Tran said, “It's ironic because now I'm the veteran that needs help.”

He's thankful he has a temporary bed at the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF).

“I'm not ashamed of where I'm at. I just made poor choices and ended up being here,” said Tran.

HVAF CEO Brian Copes said federal funding for homeless veterans is being slashed because of a shift in resources.

“For us, and it was a variety of different grants, we're down about $1.26 million out of a $5.3 million budget. So about a 25% reduction,” said Copes.

IVAF focused on helping 1,100 veterans in Indianapolis last year, but it's part of a statewide network of agencies helping homeless vets. As of October 1, there were 83 fewer temporary beds for homeless vets in Indianapolis. 

Copes said that makes their waiting list longer.

There are around 2,500 homeless veterans in the state, according to Copes. 

In Indianapolis, Copes said some 300 will be on the streets Friday night alone.

US Army Veteran Courtney Coleman, who served in Iraq, is one of those veterans.

“When we enlist, they promised us we're supposed to be taken care of. You're supposed to help our vets. You're not supposed to take away from the funding. We sacrificed our time for everybody's safety,” said Coleman.

Copes said you can help right now by giving to a veterans service organization close to home.

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the Tri-State, follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter.

(This story was originally published November 10, 2017)

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