Help on way for home­less vets

Pi­lot pro­gram planned to give va­ri­ety of aid

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By AL­LI­SON GATLIN Val­ley Press Staff Writer

PALMDALE — The city is team­ing with Val­ley Oa­sis, Northrup Grum­man and other com­mu­nity part­ners in a pi­lot pro­gram to help home­less vet­er­ans and oth­ers not only ob­tain hous­ing, but to main­tain the em­ploy­ment and supportive ser­vices nec­es­sary to sus­tain them.

The pro­gram, dubbed “Tak­ing Flight,” will pro­vide hous­ing, job train­ing and em­ploy­ment, all with the goal of mak­ing a last­ing change in par­tic­i­pants’ lives.

The co­or­di­nated ef­fort was de­signed to an­tic­i­pate and fill the gaps in ser­vices where par­tic­i­pants might fall aside, Mayor Steve Hof­bauer said.

The tran­si­tion from be­ing home­less into hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and the work­force can be very chal­leng­ing, Val­ley Oa­sis CEO Carol Crab­son said, some­thing taken into con­sid­er­a­tion when cre­at­ing the pro­gram.

“The part­ner­ship is truly a com­mu­nity ef­fort of love,” she said.

Val­ley Oa­sis will serve as the in­take agency, as­sess­ing can­di­dates for the pro­gram and guid­ing them through the ser­vices. While the ini­tial fo­cus is on vet­er­ans, the pro­gram may open to oth­ers as well.

Can­di­dates who qual­ify will re­ceive job train­ing for the aerospace in­dus­try through An­te­lope Val­ley Col­lege’s Ac­cel­er­ated Air­craft Fab­ri­ca­tion Pro­gram and into jobs with Northrop Grum­man.

“Northrop Grum­man is step­ping up to the plate” with en­try-level jobs, said Ken Friend, ta­lent ac­qui­si­tion staffing man­ager for Northrop Grum­man.

The com­pany has al­ready hired five home­less vet­er­ans through the AFAP pro­gram, he said.

“The part that we’re lack­ing

is this com­mu­nity that we’re putting to­gether,” he said. “This needs to be a com­mu­nity ef­fort.”

Dur­ing their ed­u­ca­tion, Val­ley Oa­sis will pro­vide in­ten­sive case man­age­ment to help par­tic­i­pants “re­learn how to learn … so we are build­ing suc­cess steps, one on top of the other,” Crab­son said.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion will also work with Northrop Grum­man to pro­vide ser­vices once they are em­ployed, train­ing su­per­vi­sors and hu­man re­sources per­son­nel in some of the unique chal­lenges th­ese can­di­dates pose.

“This is a very shoul­der-to-shoul­der process of Val­ley Oa­sis and Northrop Grum­man work­ing to­gether to make sure when the can­di­dates come through the pro­gram, they’re there, they have sup­port through each phase and they find suc­cess in the work­place,” Palmdale Di­rec­tor of Neigh­bor­hood Ser­vices Mike Miller said.

Fur­ther as­sis­tance in hous­ing will in­clude supportive ser­vices us­ing part­ners such as Men­tal Health Amer­ica. Tran­si­tional hous­ing could last as long as 18 months to two years, Crab­son said.

For its role, the city owns a build­ing with four, two-bed­room apart­ments that will be re­ha­bil­i­tated and used to house vet­er­ans in the pro­gram. The prop­erty, ac­quired from the Re­de­vel­op­ment Agency in Novem­ber 2018, has been va­cant since March 2019.

On Tues­day, the city’s Hous­ing Au­thor­ity ap­proved a loan of a max­i­mum of $750,000 for a pre­paid lease and the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the apart­ments.

The au­thor­ity also ap­proved an agree­ment with Val­ley Oa­sis to lease the apart­ment build­ing, per­form the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work and serve as the in­take agency to iden­tify vet­er­ans el­i­gi­ble for the pro­gram and pro­vide the nec­es­sary ser­vices to tran­si­tion them out of home­less­ness.

Also ap­proved was a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing with Val­ley Oa­sis and Northrop Grum­man to em­ploy vet­er­ans un­der the pro­gram who suc­cess­fully com­plete the AFAP pro­gram.

“The key to it is the job place­ment, which is some­thing we re­ally haven’t had a paved road to,” Miller said.

While Northrop Grum­man is teamed with An­te­lope Val­ley Col­lege in the AFAP pro­gram, the aerospace gi­ant is look­ing at cre­at­ing its own train­ing pro­gram. It would also pro­vide train­ing for spouses as well as vet­er­ans them­selves.

Coun­cilmem­ber Laura Bet­ten­court specif­i­cally called out this por­tion for praise, as mil­i­tary spouses are faced with fre­quent moves fol­low­ing their spouse through as­sign­ments, which can make com­plet­ing an ed­u­ca­tion and es­tab­lish­ing and main­tain­ing a ca­reer dif­fi­cult.

“Spouses pay a re­ally high price for be­ing mar­ried to the mil­i­tary, so I per­son­ally want to thank you for that,” she said.

Or­ga­niz­ers hope Tak­ing Flight will be a model pro­gram, to ex­pand not only lo­cally, but also na­tion­ally.

To that end, Crab­son said they have been in talks with re­searchers at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to col­lect data and eval­u­ate the pro­gram.

“This is a pi­lot pro­gram. It might start a lit­tle small, but we have great hopes that this is go­ing to be some­thing that goes from aerospace to all in­dus­try and help us re­solve our home­less prob­lems,” she said.

AL­LI­SON GATLIN/VAL­LEY PRESS

This four­plex owned by the city of Palmdale will be re­fur­bished to pro­vide hous­ing for home­less vets as part of a new pro­gram of­fer­ing a com­plete slate of hous­ing, job train­ing and em­ploy­ment, all with supportive ser­vices, to help ad­dress the prob­lem.

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