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Program finds homes for homeless veterans

10:45 PM, Aug 20, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- 69,619.

That's the estimated number of homeless veterans in the United States.

But a new program is Jacksonville is trying to dramatically reduce that number. 

Ability Housing Northeast Florida is working with the VA to house 100 veterans in 100 days. 

For the first time in a year, Monique Vanardo has a place to call home.

"It's kinda messy in there," she said.

While it might not be perfect, it's hers, and that's all that matters to her. 

After ending an abusive marriage, she found herself on the streets, with nowhere to go.

"I stopped communicating with everybody because I didn't want anyone to know how dire my situation was. I was ashamed," she said.

Vanardo always thought she could take care of herself. 

A United States military veteran, she prided herself on her independence.

But after a year of sleeping in the woods with her dog, she was attacked, and knew something had to change.

"I knew then I couldn't stay on the streets any longer," she said.

That's when she found Ability Housing.

"2700 homeless persons on the street at any given time in Jacksonville, about 14 percent of them are veterans," said Executive Director of Ability Housing Northeast Florida, Shannon Nazworth.

Nazworth teamed up with the VA to get homeless veterans in Jacksonville off the street and in to a place of their own.

Through grants and community donations they've helped 106 veterans find a place of their own this year.

"It saved my life, it really did," said Vanardo.

First Coast News

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