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Officials discuss homelessness

A discussion was recently hosted with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and state and local organizations in Laredo to come up with strategies to end homelessness among children and veterans in Laredo and Webb County.

U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, who hosted the discussion, was joined by Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz; Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina; Robert Pulster, regional coordinator of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness; Eric Samuels, president and CEO of the Texas Homeless Network; and Kameron Fowler, coordinator for Balance of State Continuum of Care.


“I am seriously concerned about the number of homeless veterans in Laredo,” Cuellar said. “This is why I added language in the fiscal year 2017 Transportation, Housing Urban Development Appropriations Bill directing U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop strategies for reducing veteran homelessness on the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Many homeless veterans living on the U.S.-Mexico border have not historically been counted on the Point-in-Time Homeless Survey.

To help bring an end to homeless veterans, Cuellar added language to the fiscal year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill calling on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to seek out ways to form partnerships with local service agencies to ensure they are maximizing public investment and providing the best, most comprehensive care to veterans.

Part of Cuellar’s language also encourages the VA to conduct a pilot-program to supply formerly homeless veterans with furniture, household items and other assistance.

Veterans Affairs statistics shows there are 1.68 million veterans in Texas, with 41,414 of them residing in the 28th Congressional District. Of these, 6,381 live in Webb County, with 107 of them being homeless.

“One veteran experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless is one too many, let alone 107,” Cuellar said.

He said that according to the VA, the main reason for homelessness is financial reasons and not being able to keep paying rent or mortgage.

“While currently there is a lot of good work being done in Laredo to help veterans and the homeless, more needs to be done between agencies to address this growing problem.

I believe that through dialogue and talks such as this one today, improvements will be made, with hopes of curtailing this problem.”