January 22, 2014
BAY PINES, FL – The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) and local agencies across southwest Florida will again join forces this year to support county-sponsored homeless Point-in-Time (PIT) counts in Pinellas, Charlotte and Collier Counties on January 23, followed by Sarasota and Manatee Counties on Jan. 27.
Spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), PITs are conducted nationally to obtain a statistically reliable, unduplicated count, or "snapshot," of sheltered and unsheltered homeless Veterans, individuals and families. The data is also the primary measure used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to assess progress made to eliminate Veteran homelessness by 2015 – a federal government initiative announced by President Barack Obama and VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki in 2009.
"The annual Point-in-Time count is the best method we currently have to measure the homeless Veteran population throughout the communities we serve," said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS. "It is our goal to identify and connect those Veterans with the quality health care services they earned through their service to our great nation."
"From housing and health care to rehabilitation and employment – we are here to support Veterans in a recovery oriented manner gain back living productive and meaningful lives," she said.
The Bay Pines VAHCS actively partners with the community to plan and conduct annual PIT surveys every year. In addition, the healthcare system conducts extensive outreach in the community to include hosting and participating in community homeless stand downs and conducting annual homeless summits. In 2013, nearly 4,650 homeless and at-risk Veterans were cared for by the system’s mental health and the Health Care for Homeless Veterans teams.
"An important part of our work to end Veteran homelessness involves our ability to forge lasting partnerships with federal, state and local agencies who share the same objective," Klinker said. "Our involvement in local Point-in-Time counts builds upon existing partnerships and streamlines our collective efforts to ensure no Veteran is left without a place to call home."
According to the 2013 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, prepared by HUD, there were 57,849 homeless Veterans on a single night in January in the United States, an 8 percent decline since 2012 and a 24 percent decline since 2010.
Explore www.va.gov/homeless to learn more about VA's programs for Veterans and to find out what you, your neighbors, and your community can do to help Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Know that one phone call can be the difference in the life of a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Make the Call to 877-4AID-VET (424-3838) to be connected 24/7 with VA's services to overcome or prevent homelessness for yourself or a Veteran you know.
About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 3,500 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The organization is the fourth busiest VA health care system in the country in terms of patients served and is accredited by The Joint Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and several other nationally recognized accrediting organizations. The Bay Pines VAHCS operates nine facilities to include the main medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Bradenton, Cape Coral, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Sebring. Every year the organization treats approximately 103,000 patients while providing a full range of high quality medical, psychiatric, and extended care services in outpatient, inpatient, nursing home, and home care settings.