Helping homeless veterans get into a new home for the holidays

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CLEVELAND -- Life can change in an instant.

"The last thing I wanted to do after 55 years was go to a homeless shelter."

Former Coast Guard seaman Thomas Loy says three things happened in less than a year that put him on the streets.

First, he lost his eyesight to an aggressive eye disease.

Next, he says a trusted friend took his savings.

Then, he was evicted.

But, Thomas says he still felt he didn't need help.

"I decided to stay on the street for 30 days and tough it out; I was afraid I’d be put somewhere they would forget about me," Loy said.

Loy has always been an independent kind of guy. He joined the Coast Guard to do search and rescue and worked on small boats on the Great Lakes in the Caribbean.

So, for a man who spent so much time helping others, he was reluctant to ask for help until he was able to connect with the VA's supportive housing program.

"Some of them have just fallen on hard times and found themselves unable to live on their own. They've struggled with trying to adjust to life after the military and we're here to help them reach whatever goals they may have," VA Social Work Coordinator Barbara Karam said.

The programs connect veterans with housing vouchers and support through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

At a housing fair on Thursday, veterans connected with landlords who have apartments or houses that are available for rent.

Housing officials locally help cut through the red tape.

"As CMHA will expedite the contract process so we will fact tract the inspection and the contract inspection so that at the end of the day they'll have a home for the holidays," Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority Coordinator Heather Gaines said.

Loy will get a chance to look at a new apartment in Parma -- getting out of VA housing and into his new home and being independent again is a true gift.

"It's gonna be great. I’ve been dealing with this since last August of 2018 so I’m looking forward to finding stability for a change," he said.

For more information about the VA Supportive Housing Program, you can contact Barbara Karam at 216-391-0264 extension 48625.

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