Good morning everyone!Thank you, Moises for that kind introduction!I’m honored to be here this morning among so many leaders working to ensure that those veterans who fought to ensure our safety, have safe housing in their communities, no matter the size! We understand the unique challenges associated with veterans housing in rural communities and applaud you for your efforts to make a real impact. So I want to start by saying THANK YOU.It is a privilege to be part of this important conversation.
For those of you not yet familiar with The Home Depot Foundation, I wanted to share why we are here and why your work is so important to us.In 2011, The Home Depot Foundation launched a new mission…a mission to ensure that every veteran has a safe place to call home. We did this because of the significant social and economic challenges we saw facing veterans and the fact that we didn’t see that changing in the near future.
And, we were truly shocked by the statistics of veterans facing critical housing needs.We think it is unacceptable that although the numbers have improved, there are still tens of thousands of veterans nationwide…many with families and young children…sleeping on the streets each night. We find it very disturbing that women veterans are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.We think it’s outrageous that veterans are twice as likely to be homeless than those who haven’t served. We can’t accept that thousands more veterans are one step away from becoming homeless, because of medical bills, or a layoff, or any number of other problems…and they can’t afford to move anywhere else.70 percent of rural veterans will be over the age of 65 in the next ten years, which means they will have less income to set aside for critical home repairs to help them age comfortably in place and we believe it is our duty to help them.Though we knew the task would be daunting, we also believed that we had an amazing opportunity to bring about change. We knew that it would take support from Foundation’s like ours, in partnership with nonprofits already working in the veterans’ housing space and government at the city, state and federal level, to really make an impact and help our veterans to get off of the streets and into safe, affordable housing – and once they’re there, they would need help to stay there.
So, when we launched our mission in 2011, we also committed $30 million over three years to support programs that are addressing the need.Just a year and a half into that commitment, we’d already completed $30 million in donations to veterans’ housing programs, but as you know, there’s still a lot more work to be done. So, we doubled down, and pledged to invest an additional $50 million – making it $80 million over five years that we’re giving to organizations that are in the trenches working to ensure all veterans have a safe place to call home.
I’m sure you’re wondering what we’ve been able to accomplish. Today, we’ve already donated more than $65 million to nonprofits focused on veterans’ housing. And we’ve gotten a little dirty! Team Depot, our associate led volunteer force has donated literally hundreds of thousands of hours to the effort. Thousands of The Home Depot associates – many of whom are veterans themselves – have completed more than 1,500 projects and counting in support of our mission. Nationwide, our dollars and the sweat equity of Team Depot have supported the building, rehab and repair of more than 10,000 units of housing for veterans.
We’re proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish, but we could not have done it alone, and we know we’re not finished yet. Crucial to our success is having strong partnerships with nonprofits – including many of you here today – that focus on each of the four key categories of the housing continuum.And to be sure our efforts reach veterans in rural communities, we’ve partnered with HAC to find those communities most in need and the organizations that are making the biggest difference for those veterans.It takes all of us, both on the public and the private side, working together to help ensure every veteran has a safe place to call home.
From transitional housing units to permanent supportive housing; from buying a home to making repairs to ensure its safe and comfortable.It’s critical that we work together to have the support systems in place for each of them…covering the whole housing spectrum…to ensure that no matter where they live, senior veterans are able to remain in their homes, injured veterans have wheelchair accessible homes, homeless veterans have safe shelter and all veterans in need have access to services.This is what it will take to ensure that four to five years from now, we aren’t facing a rising tide of negative statistics again.It has been inspiring to see the entire veterans’ community focus its resources and manpower to improve the housing situation for veterans over the last few years, but we believe that we all must re-double our efforts to keep those statistics – those VETERANS - moving in the right direction.
As you can see, the work we all do together to address veterans’ housing needs is critical. Ensuring our veterans and their families have a safe place to call home is the least…the very least…we can do after everything they’ve done for us.
And that’s why I want to end where I began…by thanking all of the leaders here today who are working tirelessly to solve veterans housing issues and to all of you for your commitment to veterans in rural communities.You are doing the hard work day-in and day-out to change lives…to help veterans chart a new course…and you are doing it with amazing skill, expertise and unmatched determination. We applaud your efforts, and look forward to working side-by-side with you. Let’s keep going!
Serving Veterans in Rural America
Serving Veterans in Rural America
Heather Pritchard, The Home Depot Foundation
April 9, 2014
SERVING THOSE WHO SERVED US ALL
To Ensure Every Veteran has a Safe
Place to Call Home
• Veterans are twice as likely to be homeless
than those who have not served
• Women veterans are the fastest growing
segment of the homeless population
• In rural America, 70 percent of veterans will be
over the age of 65 in the next 10 years